Ahmedabad: Even as the country is set to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary this year, a major row erupted in Gujarat after reports emerged that Akhil Bharatiya Hindi Mahasabha (ABHM) activists celebrated the birth anniversary of Nathuram Godse
Congress condemned the incident and lodged protests against the birth anniversary celebrations of Gandhi’s assassin.
“We have detained six people who were involved in the celebrations of Nathuram Godse’s birth anniversary and booked them under various sections of the Indian Penal Code. Those arrested were identified as Hiresh
Mashru, Vala Bharvad, Viral Malvi, Hitesh Sonara, Yogesh Patel and Manish Kalal. Surat police acted swiftly against these people,’’ Surat police said in a statement.
The Hindu Mahasabha members are said to have celebrated Nathuram Godse’s birth anniversary on Sunday night (May 19) in Limbayat area of Surat city.
The Hindu Mahasabha activists had placed Godse’s photo outside Panchmukhi Hanuman temple in Sanjaynagar area of Limbayat in Surat city and garlanded it. They also lit 109 earthen lamps and distributed sweets to mark Godse’s 109th birth anniversary.
Godse was born in Pune district’s Baramati, then part of the Bombay Presidency, on May 19 in 1910.
“For the first time, Godse’s followers are openly celebrating his birth anniversary in Surat city. A video of Godse’s birth anniversary celebrations has gone viral on social media,’’ sources said.
Congress condemned the incident, demanding an inquiry.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel told reporters that BJP’s stand on the matter is clear and the party stands by Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. “Our government in the Centre is celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in a big way to spread Bapu’s message,” he said.
“We will not tolerate those who try to distort Bapu’s idea and legacy,’’ he added.
Earlier, on November 15, 2017, the Hindu Mahasabha had installed a 32-inch bust of Godse at its Gwalior office, which the administration then removed.
Godse has become one of the most contentious topics of the ongoing Lok Sabha polls after actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan referred to him as the country's first "Hindu extremist". Following this, BJP's Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate - Pragya Singh Thakur- termed him a "deshbhakt".
Thakur apologized for her remarks, after backlash from all quarters.
Nobel laureate Kailash Sathyarthi had tweeted that Nathuram Godse killed Gandhi's body, but "people like Pragya are killing the soul, non-violence, peace, tolerance and the soul of India". He also appealed to the BJP to "immediately take her out of the party in compliance with the Raj dharma".
Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse was executed in Ambala jail on November 15, 1949.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also condemned Pragya Thakur’s statement on Godse and said that he will not forgive her for insulting Bapu,’’.