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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar ( May 26, 1883 - February 26, 1966 ) was an Indian politician, activist, writer, freedom fighter, and atheist. Savarkar developed the Hindu nationalist political ideology of Hindutva while imprisoned at Ratnagiri in 1922. He was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. Some people call him Veer (brave), some call him a freedom fighter, some call him a staunch supporter of British colonization and others know him as one of the assassins of Mahatma Gandhi. He became active in the Hindu Mahasabha founded in 1915 to protect the interests of the Hindus. He became President of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1937 and remained its President till 1943.

Savarkar was born on May 23, 1883 in the Marathi Hindu Chitpavan Brahmin family in the village Bhagur near Nashik, Maharashtra. He had three other siblings named Ganesh, Narayan, and a sister named Maina. When he was 12 years old, he led fellow students in an attack on his village mosque following Hindu-Muslim riots. In 1903, Savarkar and his older brother Ganesh founded an underground revolutionary organization, which became the Abhinav Bharat Society in 1906. In London, he involved himself with organizations such as India House and Free India Society. He also published a book called The Indian War of Independence about the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which was banned by the British. He also influenced and helped Madan Lal Dhingra to assassinate Curzon Wylie in 1909. On March 13, 1910 he was arrested in London on multiple charges, including procurement and distribution of arms, waging war against the British, and delivering seditious speeches. When the British police were taking Savarkar to India by ship, he escaped by jumping from the window at the ship dock in France. He swam in cold water to a long distance to escape, but he was caught by the French port officials and they handed him to his British captors because he did not know French and he could not prove his asylum.

Following the trials he was sentenced to 50 years of imprisonment and was transported on July 4, 1911 to the cellular jail in the Andaman and Nicobar island. Savarkar applied to the Bombay Government for certain concessions but his application was rejected on April 4, 1911. He again submitted the petition on August 30, 1911, but the petition was again rejected on September 3, 1911. Savarkar submitted third clemency petition on November 14, 1913 and presented it personally to Home Member of the Governor General’s Council, Reginald Craddock. He wrote that his release from the jail would recast the faith of Indians in the British rule. "I am ready to serve the Government in any capacity they like." He said he would motivate Indians in the interest of the British, but Government did not agree. Savarkar again submitted clemency petition in 1917 and 1920, but nothing happened. On January 6, 1924 he was released but was confined to Ratnagiri District and colonial authorities provided a bungalow for him and he was allowed visitors. He remained confined to Ratnagiri District until 1937. He was unconditionally released by the newly elected government of Bombay Presidency.

Savarkar motivated the people to join the British army during the Second World War. Under Savarkar the Hindu Mahasabha openly apposed the call for the Quiet India Movement ( given by the Congress ) and boycotted it officially. Savarkar wrote a letter titled “ stick to your posts “ in which he instructed Hindu Mahasabha members should continue working in their posts in municipalities, local bodies, Legislatures and army across the the country and not join the Quiet India Movement. Savarkar believed in two nations theory and was in favour of Pakistan. He was of the view that Sikhs can have a separate state in North-Western India. On February 1, 1966 he renounced medicine, food, and water for a fast death and died on February 26, 1966. There was no official mourning by the government of Maharashtra and the Centre. No Minister of Maharashtra showed up to pay homage to Savarkar.

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