Gwalior: Police on Friday arrested four Hindu Mahasabha activists for allegedly distributing pamphlets containing "objectionable" words about Mahatma Gandhi. This incidentally followed public protest over the police failure to act against the provocative activities of Hindu Mahasabha members who have been organising programmes to mark the death anniversary of both Nathura Godse and Narayan Apte, his associate in plotting Bapu's murder.
The Mahasabha first tried to build a temple in memory of Godse a couple of years ago. The police thwarted their attempts. On November 15, 2017, the Mahasabha had installed a bust of Godse at its office here after performing the ritual of "pran pratishtha" (consecration). However, it was removed by the authorities following a furore.
This year they tried to perform puja and arti of Godse and Apte on their death anniversary on November 15 at the Maha Sabha's office when the police cracked down. Some persons were subsequently booked for distributing pro-Godse pamphlets in the Daulat Ganj area. They wanted a chapter added to schools syllabus based on the statement of Godse about why he killed Gandhi.
However, the police stopped short of arresting them. According to police the activists of the right-wing outfit were arrested later on complaint filed by the people in the neighbourhood. Kotwali Police station had filed an FIR against Mahasabha members Naresh Batham and others under section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"After investigating the case, four persons: Narendra Batham, Pawan Mahaur, Kishore and Anand Mahaur, have been arrested on Friday," said Kotwali Police Station in-charge Vivek Ashthana.
The government took almost a fortnight to act against these persons after the FIR was filed.
As Sadhvi Pragya Thakur incurred the wrath of her own party for eulogising Godse the question being asked was why was BJP mollycoddling her? The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh was also being criticised for going soft on the Godse fans in Gwalior.
The state government has apparently been weighing the political consequences of coming down heavily on pro-Godse elements and reviving the sentiment that was consigned to history in 1949 with the hanging of Gandhi assassin.
The Gandhi assassination saga has a strong Gwalior connection.
In a double storey house in Vivekananda Colony, Phalka Bazaar, Gwalior lives 82 year-old Upendra Parchure son of Dattatreya Parchure, the man said to have arranged the 9 mm Beretta pistol, manufactured in Italy in 1934, with which Gandhi was shot. In 1935, Dattatreya started a branch of the Hindu Mahasabha in Gwalior. He was also a leader of its militant offshoot, the Hindu Rashtra Dal, and a fierce antagonist of the Congress. Upendra may not be very active anymore but the other Godse fans have been busy stoking the anti-Gandhi sentiment by promoting Godse.