10 Interesting facts about VD Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. (Photo/Facebook)

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, some call him 'Veer' (brave), some call him 'a staunch supporter of British colonisation' and others know him as one of the 'assassins' of Mahatma Gandhi. 

Recently Savarkar was making headlines after Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) proposed Bharat Ratna for his 'bravery' for his participation in India's independence struggle. It immediately erupted controversy with the opposition going against BJP's decision.

"If on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, this government considers any such thing (giving Bharat Ratna to Savarkar), then all I want to say is that God save this country," said Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari.

Not just that, last month, the North Campus of Delhi University saw an installation of a statue which has Savarkar in the middle along with Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose on his sides. Since the installation didn't have permission from the university authorities, the student organisations like NSUI protested against his statue by garlanding it with footwear and blackening the face. Such instances have happened in the past as well.

Why would anyone put a garland of footwear on a freedom fighter? Or was he really a freedom fighter? 

Here are 10 interesting facts about VD Savarkar that everyone should know:

1) Right from childhood, he was an advocate of Hindutva. Renowned author Jyotirmaya Sharma demonstrated in his book "Hindutva: Exploring the Idea of Hindu Nationalism" that when Savarkar was 12-year-old, he leads a march with his schoolmates to vandalise a mosque in order to take revenge against the 'atrocities' committed against Hindus by Muslims.

2) In 1911, Savarkar was sentenced to 50 years in the cellular jail of Andamans, also known as Kala Pani for revolting against the Morley-Minto reforms (Indian Councils Act 1909). After several mercy petitions for not participating in politics, he was released in 1924.

3) Being a passionate promoter of Hindutva, he never was a cow worshipper. He asked people not to worship cows but to care for them. He was also against consuming cow urine and cow dung.

4) Serving as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha political party, he opposed the Quit India movement in 1942. He was a critic of the Indian National Congress and its acceptance of India's partition.

5) After his release from jail, he worked on the abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri.

6) In his book 'The History of the War of Indian Independence', he analysed the circumstances of 1857 uprising. It was via this book that Savarkar became one the first writers to call for India's first war for independence against the British.

7) He was also a critic of Mahatama Gandhi and called him a 'hypocrite'. In 1948, he was charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, however, he was released by court for lack of evidence against him.

8) The airport at Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar's capital was renamed Veer Savarkar International Airport in 2002. 

9) 'Barrister Savarkar' was the first biography of Savarkar under the pen name Chitragupta and the second edition by the Veer Savarkar Prakashan. His autobiography came under scrutiny after the official publisher or Savarkar's writings Ravindra Ramdas revealed that 'Chitragupta is none other than Veer Savarkar'.

10) In 1964, he felt that his goal of independence India is achieved and he declared his wish to attain Samadhi. He started a hunger strike on February 1, 1966, and passed away on February 26, 1966.

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