The Rajasthan University has denied the Indian Council of Historical Research permission to organise a seminar on the Indian freedom fighter Veer Savarkar. The denial comes on the heels of the Rajasthan Congress government’s recent move to remove “Veer” from references to VD Savarkar in the textbooks.
The Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) is an autonomous body of the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which had been established by an Administrative Order of the then Ministry of Education. The council has provided financial assistance to the historians and direction to the research scholars in their diverse topics of historical research through accomplished historians and scholars of the country.
In one such event launched by the council on Monday, the body had sought permission from Rajasthan university to have a seminar on Veer Savarkar- ‘The Truth about Savarkar’, a part of council’s multi-city talk series programme, supported by the history-rewriting wing of the RSS affiliate, Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana. However, the University of Rajasthan turned down their request, asking them to change the topic of their discussion.
The bedrock of the multi-city talk series is to counter the false propaganda and lies being peddled about Savarkar and about his writings on the 1857 war of independence, said an ICHR official.
However, the Rajasthan University refused to grant permission to the ICHR stating that “some aspects of Savarkar were deeply controversial”. The University asked the Council to choose some other topic for the seminar.
The head of the department of history and culture, Rajasthan University, Pramila Poonia asserted that they had not refused them entirely but sought a month’s time to deliberate over the issue and involve other stakeholders in arriving at a decision. She said that some facets of Savarkar were profoundly controversial to them and they did not want to incite any problem.
In the run-up to the Maharashtra Assembly elections, the BJP had campaigned for Bharat Ratna to the Hindutva hero. This did not sit well with the Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot who was quick to slam the party as a fascist political party with no regard for anyone’s sentiments.
However, many professors at ICHR believe that systematic and coordinated attempts were made to character assassinate Veer Savarkar and thus discredit his propounded Hindutva ideology. Raghuvendra Tanwar, professor, Kurukshetra University, while speaking at ICHR contended that there was a conspiracy to keep Savarkar out of mainstream politics, which was designed by the British because he was endeavouring the political revival of Hindutva.
Another historian who spoke at the event, Himanshu Rai, castigated left for having a partisan view on Savarkar. He slammed the writings of authors Tanika Sarkar, Shamshul Islam and AG Noorani, on Savarkar as “divisive”. Rai contended that the left despised Savarkar because even while serving his jail term, Savarkar initiated the process of Shuddhi, of encouraging prisoners not to convert.