- Delhi police CID report: On 8 Dec, 1947 Golwalkar said RSS had the means to silence Gandhi
- Lucknow CID’s letter: On 1 Dec, 50 RSS men met at Mathura, allegedly discussed assassinating Congress leaders
More in the story
The Supreme Court, in its oral observations, has upbraided Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his statement that “RSS people” killed Mahatma Gandhi. In the apex court’s wisdom, young Rahul Gandhi could not make a “collective denunciation” of the RSS or the Rashtirya Swayamsewak Sangh.
It is a moot point whether it is for a court of law to give a clean bill of health to the RSS, 68 years after the assassination of the Mahatma.
Two important questions, however, remain unanswered: Did the RSS threaten to kill Mahatma Gandhi? And, did the RSS have the capability or the means to do so?
Reports available in the public domain in the Delhi Police Archives say that the RSS did threaten Gandhi and claimed that it had the means to silence him. These are the secret source reports of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Delhi Police for the months preceding Gandhi’s assassination.
Here are some extracts from the verbatim copy of a police report of a crucial RSS meeting where The threat was made.
The CID source is identified only as “Sewak” (perhaps an impish play on ‘sewaks’, the term for RSS volunteers) and filed by Inspector Kartar Singh of the department:
“On 8.12.47 about 2500 volunteers of the Sangh collected in their camp on Rohtak Road. After some drill, MS Golwalkar, the Guru of the Sangh addressed the volunteers. He explained the principles of the Sangh and said that it was the duty of every individual to be prepared for facing the coming crisis with full force. Very soon, they would be placing a complete scheme before them. The time for playing had gone. …”
“Referring to the Government, he said that law could not meet force. We should be prepared for guerrilla warfare on the lines of the tactics of Shivaji. The Sangh will not rest content until it had finished Pakistan. If anyone stood in our way we will have to finish him too, whether it was the Nehru Government or any other Government. The Sangh could not be won over. They should carry on their work.”
“Referring to Muslims, he said that no power on earth could keep them in Hindustan. They shall have to quit this country. Mahatma Gandhi wanted to keep the Muslims in India so that the Congress may profit by their votes at the time of election. But by that time not a single Muslim will be left in India. If they were made to stay here, the responsibility would be the Government’s, and the Hindu community will not be responsible.”
“Mahatma Gandhi could not mislead them any longer. We have the means whereby such men can be immediately silenced, but it is our tradition not to be inimical to Hindus. If we are compelled, we will have to resort to that course also.”
LETTERS FROM THE LUCKNOW CID CHIEF
That the government of the day understood the importance of the secret meeting is evident from letters to his counterpart in Delhi by GB Wiggins, the Superintendent of Police, CID, Special Branch, Lucknow, repeatedly asking what had taken place at the meeting scheduled for 8 December, 1947. Wiggins had first alerted the Delhi police about the impending meeting based on a report he had received from Mathura. After two reminders, the Officiating SP of CID Delhi, wrote back, sending him the report of the Delhi meeting.
The CID report from Mathura that got Wiggins so deeply worried was about a secret meeting of the RSS at Gobardhan in Mathura on 1 December, 1947 at the residence of one Antu Lal Vaish. It was attended by about 50 RSS men from Etah, Aligarh, Delhi and Mathura. Those present were informed that “a meeting of the delegates from all over India is to be held in Delhi on or about 8 December 1947 and the future programme would be chalked out” there.
This source report also claimed that one of the issues to be discussed at the 8 December meeting “would be to assassinate leading persons of the Congress in order to terrorise the public and to get their [RSS’] hold over them”
Might one say that these two reports from Mathura and Delhi in December 1947 constitute a smoking gun? Not until it can be shown that the RSS had the weapons to carry out the assassination of Congress leaders.
DID RSS HAVE GUNS?
CID reports indicate that the police suspected that the RSS was making efforts to procure weapons. A report classified as “Strictly Secret” dated 13 November 1947 emanating from the Office of Superintendent of Police, CID Delhi, noted attempts by the RSS workers to suborn policemen on duty at Mori Gate and at several other places in Delhi regarding a proposed attack on local Muslims.
The RSS workers boasted to the police “that they had arms of all kinds” and that when riots broke out the police should not fire on them because they were Hindus!
The reports notes, “The Policemen did not agree with them, lest action might be taken by the Government against them.” Their argument was that they would be in trouble if they did not open fire in a riot situation and if they did then some Hindus were bound to be shot.
Interestingly the CID report notes that the RSS men planning communal violence against Muslims had “decided that the Sangh workers, in case the riots broke out, would tie white handkerchiefs on their wrists as a mark of identification”!
This indicates that RSS workers had access to arms; they were planning violence against Muslims and were even joining hands with Akali Sikhs to perpetrate it.
Another report by CID Inspector Kartar Singh of Special Branch notes that two life-members of the RSS – Pyare Lal and Harbans Lal had come to Delhi from Sialkot and then proceeded to Hardwar and Mussoorie ostensibly to organise the West Punjab refugees. He wrote to his superiors that he suspected that they had gone to procure arms but could not confirm it.
Another CID report indicating procurement of arms is dated 24 November 1947. It notes:
“According to an unconfirmed news, a couple of volunteers of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh visited Alwar State … few days back and purchased about 150 guns in order to train their volunteers in the use of firearms and at the same time prepare them for any emergency.”
So the RSS either had weapons or was trying to source weapons for use against Muslims and could use them against anyone opposed to their ideology.
According to an Indian Express news report dated 6 February, 1948, the revolver that Nathuram Godse used to kill Mahatma Gandhi was presented to him by an RSS leader in Nagpur.
The CID reports suggest that there was some truth in what Jawaharlal Nehru said in his letter of 28 February 1948 to Sardar Patel:
“More and more I have come to the conlusion that Bapu’s murder was not an isolated business but a part of a much wider campaign organised chiefly by the RSS.”
He even suggested that “the Delhi Police has a goodly number of sympathisers with the RSS. It may not be easy to deal with all of them.”
Sardar Patel, however, gave a clean chit to the RSS in his reply to Nehru, saying, “It also clearly emerges.. that the RSS was not involved in it [Gandhi’s assassination] at all. It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under [Vinayak Damodar] Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through.”
Sardar Patel also noted: “Of course, his assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and the Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way thinking and his policy.”
However he put a caveat, “In the case of a secret organisation like the RSS which has no records of membership; no registers; etc. securing of authentic information whether a particular individual is an active worker or not is rendered a difficult task.”
If the above CID reports are true, then it’s clear that there was an RSS threat to Mahatma Gandhi’s life, coming from an authority as high as RSS chief MS Golwalkar. The RSS had the means to carry out the assassination and this was allegedly discussed at the 8 December meeting at Mathura. What cannot be conclusively established is whether Nathuram Godse’s act was related to these incidents or that he acted on his own.
Edited by Aditya Menon