The history of India cannot be complete without mentioning the legendary Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. He is better known as Veer Savarkar, and he carved a reputable niche for himself as an activist and freedom fighter who fiercely advocated for India’s independence. He was an activist who came up with Hindutva, which is now the main form of nationalism in India. He also established himself as one of the leading figures of Hindu Mahasabha. He was the first person who eradicated the evil practices of untouchability in Ratnagiri. He even presented monetary incentives to parents and distributed chalk and slate to kids from lower castes to encourage them to seek education.
Sadly, millennials poke fun at this legend because of the letter that he wrote to the British after encountering harsh treatment in the cellular jail of Andaman for eleven long years. Today, let me give you the picture of the jail where he was kept, and then we will cover some of his unmissable contributions. This is Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, and it’s all fitting to remember the hell our freedom fighter Veer Savarkar had to endure to spread the word of Nationalism, Hindutva, and Indian Independence.
Veer Savarkar was first arrested in London in 1909. One of the charges on Savarkar was the abetment to murder of Nashik Collector Jackson, who was destroying the poor Indians and waging war against indigenous Indic populations
Following a couple of unfair trials, Veer Savarkar, then aged 28, was wrongly convicted and sentenced to 50-years of rigorous imprisonment and transported on 4 July 1911 CE to the infamous Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Cellular Jail was a hell-hole constructed by the British that had seven wings, at the center of which a tower served as the intersection and was employed by guards to keep watch on the prisoners.
Each of the seven wings had three stories. There were no dormitories and a total of 696 microscopic cells. Each cell was 14.8 ft × 8.9 ft (4.5 by 2.7 metres ) in size, with a tiny ventilator located at the height of 3 metres (9.8 ft). The name, “cellular jail”, emanated from the solitary cells which stopped any prisoner from communicating with any other. Also, the spokes were so designed such that the face of a cell in a spoke saw the back of cells in another spoke. This way, communication between prisoners was impossible. They were all in solitary confinement. The locks of the prison cells were designed so that the inmate would never be able to reach the latch of the lock. The prison guards would lock up the inmates and throw the lock’s key inside the jail. The inmate would try to put his hand out and try to unlock the door but would never be able to do so as his hand would never reach the lock.
At Cellular Jail, Veer Savarkar was subjected to excessive torture and inhuman treatment that tested the very limits of his conviction. He was restrained in chains, flogged, and resigned to six months of solitary confinement. He was often forced to eat terrible food infested with worms and insects as punishment for his ‘crimes’ against the British occupation of India. This was perhaps the worst of the worst torture anyone could ever have to ensure. Compare that to the luxury palaces that Indian politicians received as a jail, and you would know why history has wronged Savarkar.
The conditions were enough to break his spirits. However, his resilience was extraordinary. Veer Savarkar played the British, and ultimately received a conditional pardon after a Vanvaas unmatchable in documented history. Once out, he immediately focused on social reforms and never gave up. Advocating for Poorna Swaraj (Complete Freedom), Veer Savarkar was so brave that he confronted what was the greatest power on earth at that time – the British Empire. He even advocated for revolution. He insisted that India must become free. He published books that were so inflammatory and inciting that the British authorities banned them. These were books like the Indian Wars of Independence, which focused on the Indian rebellion of 1857. He opposed Gandhi (when even the British Government was not directly opposing him) and other tall leaders of the Indian National Congress to save India from Partition. He never lost sight of Hindutva, which is why India still has a considerable Hindu population advocating for the rights of our oldest surviving religion.
On Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, let’s remember his contributions, resilience, patience, and his courage. Jai Bharat k Veer, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.In