Communalism

Gwalior: Hindu Mahasabha's 'Library' on Nathuram Godse Shut, Material Seized

The 'library' contained speeches made by the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. The Mahasabha also planned to hold lectures on "Godse’s journey and Mahatma Gandhi’s 'failure' to stop the Partition".

New Delhi: A “library” opened by the Hindu Mahasabha bearing th name of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse was closed by the Gwalior district administration on Tuesday. According to reports, the administration also seized its material over law and order concerns.

The “gyanshaala” or study centre, opened at the Mahasabha’s office in Daulatganj area in Gwalior on Sunday. The fact that it bore Godse’s name came under intense criticism, with the police also receiving several complaints.

Additional district magistrate Kishore Kanyal told news agency PTI that after learning about the study centre, preventive orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were imposed in Daulatganj area. Such orders are issued to prevent anything that may lead to a breach of peace.

Kanyal also told the news agency that the administration had ‘discussed’ the issue with the Mahasabha’s office-bearers and “told them they should not do anything that can disturb the peace”.

“They promised not to break the law and said they would close the centre,” Kanyal told reporters.

According to the Indian Express, apart from offering literature on Godse’s life and his view, the centre also planned to hold lectures on “Godse’s journey and Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘failure’ to stop the Partition”.

Earlier reports had said that the centre contains literature on how Godse plotted the assassination of Gandhi. Mahasabha vice president Jaiveer Bharadwaj had said that the library was opened to show the world that Godse was a “true nationalist”.

“He stood and died for an undivided India. The purpose of the library is to instil true nationalism which Godse stood for in today’s ignorant youth,” he had said.

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On Tuesday, Bharadwaj told the Indian Express, “We wanted our message to reach out to the people at large and this was done. We did not want any law and order situation, so the library was shut down.” He also told PTI that the Mahasabha will continue to “organise inspirational programmes about patriots”, signalling that the body would continue to revere Godse.

The Hindu Mahasabha has a long history of praising Godse’s actions. In 2017, it laid the foundation stone for a ‘temple’ in his honour in Gwalior, where a statue had already been installed. The statue was removed and a case was registered against the Mahasabha’s members. In early 2019, the organisation’s leader Pooja Shakun Pandey ‘reenacted‘ Gandhi’s assassination by shooting at an effigy of Gandhi with an air pistol.

Mere months later, in March 2019, Pragya Thakur, then a BJP candidate for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, repeated the Mahasabha’s line on Godse, calling him a ‘patriot’. Thakur, who is an accused in the Malegaon terror attack, has repeated this claim several times, even in the halls of parliament.