Eleven years after Congress leader and then petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar got it removed, a plaque on RSS ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is set to be restored in the Cellular Jail premises in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, courtesy Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik who will lay the foundation stone of the project on Sunday.
The plaque commemorating stay of Savarkar at the jail was first installed by Naik in 2004 when he was petroleum minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government. It was removed soon after UPA government came to power at the Centre.
Speaking to the The Indian Express before leaving for Andaman and Nicobar on Friday, Naik said, “During my tenure as petroleum minister, I had got the plaque of Savarkar installed near ‘Swatantra Jyoti’ in the Freedom Fighter’s Memorial. The plaque carried a quote by Savarkar but was removed by Mani Shankar Aiyar, who was my successor, the same year despite strong protests”.
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“Swatantra Jyoti” (eternal flame), located in the precincts of the jail, was built by the Indian Oil Corporation, which is under the Union Petroleum Ministry.
“I had requested Prime Minister in the past to ensure that proper respect be given to Savarkar and his plaque be restored in the Freedom Fighter’s Memorial next to other freedom fighters such Subhas Chandra Bose. Now, it is being restored. I am going to Andaman and Nicobar to lay the foundation stone and take part in the bhoomi poojan ceremony,” Naik further said.
Savarkar’s plaque was one of the four installed at the memorial with quotes from different freedom fighters.
Naik said the plaque would carry the same quote by Savarkar as was mentioned on the original plaque.
Naik would reach Port Blair on July 4 and would participate in the bhoomi poojan on July 5, he informed.
Savarkar, who was named in the conspiracy to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi, was a Hindu Mahasabha leader and is often credited with coining the term and philosophy of Hindutva.
Earlier, last year, incumbent petroleum minister Dharmedra Pradhan and asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to restore Savarkar’s plaque.