| A pigeon sits on Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Delhi. Picture by Rajesh Kumar
Hyderabad, Nov. 16: Incensed Gandhians pulled down a bust of Nathuram Godse hours after it was unveiled in an Andhra town, resorting to means that would go against the Mahatma’s principle of non-violent struggle.
Using crowbars and hammers and raising slogans of “Gandhi zindabad” and “Godse down, down”, they demolished the bust of Gandhi’s killer soon after it was installed at a street corner in coastal Tadepalligudem.
The demolition men then took out a procession to protest the installation by advocate Gollapalli Shyamaprasad Mukherjee, who is known to be a fundamentalist. Mukherjee has a Bengali surname but is a Telugu.
The bust, made of plaster of Paris but painted golden, was put up with little fanfare on Wednesday. But Mukherjee allegedly said at the unveiling that had Gandhi been shot a year earlier, the policy of appeasing Muslims would have been nipped in the bud and there would have been no Pakistan.
Outraged and provoked by these words, the town’s Gandhi Mandapam committee set out on its hammer-and-crowbar mission, possibly overlooking that in Gandhi’s world view “the end does not justify the means”.
A less violent and more Gandhian response would possibly have been to drag Mukherjee to court or even hold a satyagraha.
Gandhi often explained his logic for a non-violent struggle with a seed-tree metaphor. He would say the “means” could be likened to a seed and the “end” to a tree; there was just the same “inviolable connection” between the means and the end as between the seed and the tree.
One of the demolition men, a freedom fighter who was jailed for two years after taking part in Gandhi’s salt satyagraha, today appeared rattled when asked how his team could have resorted to such unGandhian means.
“How can Godse be made a hero for his treacherous act of killing Mahatma Gandhi'” Karri Seetharamaiah retorted. “I am 65 years old now but I could not digest the promotion of Godse as a hero by our own Indians.”
The Gandhians have also filed a police complaint against Mukherjee, accusing him of “treason” for daring to install the bust. They have demanded his arrest.
But the police have yet to initiate action. According to the Indian Penal Code, people have the right to install statues or busts as long as the person concerned is not a declared anti-national. Nathuram Godse has not been declared an anti-national.
Mukherjee said he would move court against the “vandalism” by the freedom fighters as the plot where he put up the bust allegedly belonged to him. “I have the right to say and do what I want in my own area.”
He claimed he had not made much of a noise ahead of Wednesday’s unveiling as he had plans to invite the public for a full-fledged ceremony later.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has been on an anti-Gandhi drive in coastal Andhra towns, distributing pamphlets and criticising governments that have undertaken programmes to appease the minorities.