Family members of Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, held a program on Sunday to commemorate his 66th death anniversary. But they could not release a book that calls Nathuram a “Martyr Saint” as groups of youths gathered and shouted slogans outside Anandi Vilas building in Shivajinagar, the residence of a Godse family member, where the prgramme was being organised.
Nathuram was hanged on November 15, 1949. Since 1950, every year on this day, family members and their friends come together under the “Hutatma Nathuram Godse Icchapatra Nyaas” to perform their annual rituals and pledge to work for the cause of “Akhanda Bharat” or Undivided India. Family members call it “Balidan Divas” (Martyrdom Day).
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The venue for the programme this year was Anandi Vilas building. Godse believed that one day his dream of “Akhanda Bharat” would come true and the Sindhu River, which became a part of Pakistan after partition, would again flow through India. Godse’s dying wish was to immerse his ashes in the Sindhu River when it comes under the Indian flag.
The family has maintained his ashes from generation to generation till now. The ashes were kept in a pot in front of the “Akhanda Bharat” image with Nathuram Godse’s picture in the middle. Pictures of revolutionary Veer Savarkar who started the Abhinav Bharat in 1905 for raising an armed struggle against the British, and four other conspirators of Mahatma Gandhi assassination-Gopal Godse, Narayan Apte, Vishnu Karkare and Madanlal Pahwa-were also displayed. Over 100 people, mainly family members and friends of the Godse family, had gathered to pay homage to Nathuram.
While a participant named Keertankar Charudatta Aphale was delivering a speech, a group of youths gathered outside and raised slogans in favour of Mahatma Gandhi. Cops were already deployed on the spot, and an additional force reached the place in some time to ensure that there is no law and order situation.
Apparently, the plan to release a book on Nathuram, which calls him a “Martyr Saint”, during the function was canceled. Police sources said that some of these youths are associated with political and social outfits oppposed to the BJP and RSS.
A family member named Ajinkya Godse said, “Cops requested us not to release the book. We agreed to it. I live in Anandi Vilas. This is a family program in our parking. So nobody should have any objections. We are going to release a range of books in the near future.”
A protestor named Abhijit Mhaske said, “We know that the Godse family has the constitutional right to conduct this function. But they circulated messages of the function on social media. They had plans to release a book on Nathuram Godse. It spreads a wrong message in society. So we are protesting against it peacefully. We are like-minded youths. We are not representing any organisations.”
The Godse family, however, called the protest a publicity stunt. Satyaki Savarkar, son of Nathuram’s neice Himani Savarkar, who passed away recently, said, “Even Nathuram Godse had expressed his respect for Mahatma Gandhi. We are conducting the program every year and it is not against Mahatma Gandhi. We are pledging for Akhand Bharat. We will continue to do so despite objections.”
Every year, during the “Balidan Divas” programme, Hutatma Nathuram Godse Icchapatra Nyaas has been giving awards and mementos to people who they feel have given valuable contribution to the Hindutva movement. “This year, no award has been given out due to Himani Savarkar’s death,” said Satyaki, who is also an office bearer of Hindu Mahasabha.
Himani is a former president of Hindutva outfit Abhinav Bharat, members of which are accused of being involved in the Malegaon bomb blast of 2008.