On Friday (May 14), The Week magazine apologised for a defamatory article they had earlier published about freedom fighter Veer Savarkar. The contentious article in question was published by the Kerala-based magazine on January 24, 2016, and written by ‘journalist’ Niranjan Takle.
Titled ‘A lamb, lionised’, the article gave a false impression to the readers that Veer Savarkar was a ‘meek’ lamb whose reputation had been somehow uplifted to match the prowess of a lion by the BJP government at the Centre. It must be mentioned that Veer Savarkar was handed two life sentences of 25 years each for his revolutionary activities. When he had walked into the Cellular Jail at Andaman and Nicobar Islands, he was just 28 years old.
Despite being incarcerated at such a young age for his freedom struggle against the British, Nirajan Takle quoted one historian Shamsul Islam to suggest that the time spent in Cellular Jail ended his ‘anti-imperialistic inclinations’. He further claimed that no freedom fighter other than Veer Savarkar ‘surrendered or submitted to the British’. The author had also claimed that the Father of Hindutva was a marginal political figure who was mainstreamed by BJP in 2003. The article also insinuated that Veer Savarkar was involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
The series of baseless allegations levelled against the Indian freedom fighter
The freedom fighter was initially subjected to 6 months of solitary confinement. He was subjected to one month of confinement for writing letters without permission and standing handcuffs for a period of 7 days for possession of a letter written to another inmate. He was also subjected to neck shackles, cross-bar iron fetters, and forced to do hard labour. Instead of being empathetic to the torture endured by Veer Savarkar, a repetitive mention of his mercy petitions was made to triviliase his struggle.
The author further attempted to hold the freedom fighter responsible for conversions, Hindu nationalism and accused him of justifying Hindu separatism. He also blamed Veer Savarkar for being the first proponent of the Two-nation Theory, a move he claimed led to the adoption of the same by Muhammed Ali Jinnah. Citing historian Shamsul Islam, the article further alleged that Veer Savarkar betrayed India and sided with the British during the Quit India movement of 1942.
Niranjan Takle alleged in The Week that Savarkar was responsible for the militarisation of Hindus, as a part of the British plan to foil ‘the advances’ of Subhas Chandra Bose. He also claimed that Savarkar was not an advocate of ‘Akhand Bharat (united India)’ but instead ‘welcomed the possibility of a separate Sikhistan’ and independence of princely States. Further quoting Mani Shankar Aiyar, he said, “Savarkar was one of the accused in the conspiracy to kill Gandhiji and was acquitted for lack of corroborative evidence. But he was later indicted by the Justice Kapur commission as the main conspirator.”
The Week apologises to readers for contentious article on Veer Savarkar
Following social media backlash and a lawsuit by the freedom fighter’s grand nephew Ranjit Savarkar, the magazine was forced to tender an apology on 14th May. In its apology note, The Week magazine said, “An article concerning Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, which was published in The Week dated January 24, 2016, under the title ‘Lamb, lionised and mentioned in the contents page as “Hero to Zero’, is misunderstood and giving rise to misinterpretation of the high stature of Veer Savarkar.”