Following the birthday celebration of Nathuram Godse by Hindu Mahasabha activists in Limbyayat area of Surat city on Sunday, the police have arrested activists of the organisation – Hiren Mashru, Vala Bharwad, Viral Malvi, Hitesh Sonar, Yogesh Patel and Manish Kalal – on Monday.
During the celebration that took place in the compound of Suryamukhi Hanuman temple, the members of the organisation exchanged sweets, sang bhajans and lit lamps around Godse’s photo. The activists reportedly posted the videos and photographs of the event on social media.
The police said that the six have been arrested under IPC Sections 153 (provocation with an intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, doing to maintenance of harmony) and 153B (making assertions prejudicial to national integration).
Nathuram Godse was born on May 19, 1910 in Baramati in Pune district, then part of the Bombay Presidency. He was an extreme right-wing Hindu nationalist and was a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Hindu Mahasabha. On January 30, 1948, Godse assassinated Gandhi, as he believed Gandhi favoured political demands of India’s Muslims during the Partition.
The recent controversies
On May 12, the Makkal Neethi Maiam leader and actor Kamal Haasan had mentioned Godse during his speech on an election campaign in Aravakurichi, Tamil Nadu. He said, "The first terrorist of independent India was a Hindu. His name was Nathuram Godse. I am saying this in front of Gandhi's statue."
Haasan's comments had evoked sharp reaction from the state BJP leaders and also from the leaders of the other states. Following that, on May 14, an FIR was filed against Kamal Haasan in Aravakurichi. BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had even moved Delhi High Court, seeking the debarring of candidates and de-registration of parties “abusing religion for political motives” during elections.
Also read: Independent India's First extremist, Godse, was Hindu: Kamal Haasan
On May 16, the controversy took a new turn when Sadhvi Pragya Thakur joined this debate. The Malegaon blast-accused BJP candidate from Bhopal constituency said: “Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a deshbhakt and will remain a deshbhakt.” This statement by Thakur forced even Prime Minister Narendra Modi to issue a statement condemning her comments. And so, she later withdrew the statement.
Anantkumar Hegde, the controversial leader and Union Minister from Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka – also a BJP candidate in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections -- had also supported Godse in a tweet. "I am glad that seven decades later today's generation debates in a changed perceptional environment and gives good scope for the condemned to be heard upon #NathuramGodse would have finally felt happy with this debate," he tweeted. He later claimed that his Twitter account has hacked and that he did not endorse the statement.
BJP's candidate from the Dakshina Kannada constituency Nalin Kumar Kateel had also supported Godse in his tweet - "Godse killed one, Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. You judge who is more cruel in this?" Later, he deleted the tweet.
On January 30, 2019, the 71st death anniversary of Gandhi, the Hindu Mahasabha activists had reportedly recreated Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in Aligarh. The activists reportedly shot at Mahatma Gandhi’s poster, and praised Godse as “Mahatma”, NDTV reported.
Hindu Mahasabha also celebrates November 15 as Nathuram Godse’s “Balidan divas”.
Also read: Why Won’t Right Wing Admit That Godse Was a Terrorist?