Did Gandhi insist Savarkar to file mercy petitions before the British government ?

It can be seen on social media more often that Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who is called ‘Veer Savarkar’ by RSS and BJP members, filed mercy petitions before the British government.

The Indian Minister of Defence, Rajnath Singh and RSS Leader Mohan Bagavat took part in an event related to a book on Savarkar on October 13.

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Minister Rajnath Singh on the occasion, “Misinformation about Savarkar is being spread. It is repeatedly spread that he filed mercy petitions before the British government. But he did not file the mercy petitions for his release when he was in jail. A prisoner has an option to file a mercy petition. He filed mercy petitions after discussing with Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi requested to release Savarkar”, said.

Savarkar’s list of apologies:

A.G.Noorani, Lawyer and Writer wrote about the list of apologies and undertakings which Savarkar offered from 1911 when he was lodged in Andaman cellular jail, in 2005 for The Hindu Frontline.

The article reports, “Savarkar was lodged in the Andaman cellular jail in July 1911. Within six months he submitted a petition for mercy. He had submitted his second mercy petition in November 1913. The Internal Minister Sir William Vincent mentioned about the mercy petitions filed in 1914 and 1918 in the assembly in 1920”.

Mahatma Gandhi departed from South Africa on 19th December 1914 and reached India on 9th January 1915. By this time Savarkar has filed mercy petitions twice already.

Gandhi’s Letter:

As per the reports from Gandhi Sevagram, Gandhi wrote a reply letter on 25th January 1920 to Narayanan Savarkar (Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s younger brother) about the release of the Savarkar brothers.

Gandhi’s letter says, “I have your letter. I suggest, however, your framing a brief petition setting forth the facts of the case bringing out in clear relief the fact that the offence committed by your brother was purely political. I suggest this in order that it would be possible to concentrate public attention on the case. Meanwhile, as I have said to you in an earlier letter I am moving in the matter in my own way”.

Gandhi did not ask Savarkar to file mercy petitions before the British government in the letter that he wrote, instead, he has said that he is moving in the matter in his own way.

Savarkar filed a new mercy petition two months after the letter from Gandhi. The Hindu Frontline reported in 2005, in the letter dated 30th March 1920, Savarkar thanked the British government for releasing hundreds of prisoners. Also requested to show mercy to the remaining prisoners including himself and his brother.

Similarly, in the letter written to his brother on 6th July 1920, he has spoken about the mercy petitions, but it does not include the name of Gandhi.

In May 1921, Savarkar was transferred to a jail in Ratnagiri district after he was released from Andaman cellular jail. In 1924, he was released from Ratnagiri jail on a few terms and conditions.

There is no evidence to prove that Savarkar filed mercy petitions only after Gandhi insisted on him. Gandhi was in South Africa when Savarkar filed the first two mercy petitions. When Savarkar’s younger brother wrote to Gandhi seeking help in 1920, Gandhi has asked to file a petition. It is not true that Savarkar filed a mercy petition as Gandhi asked him to do as claimed by Minister Rajnath Singh.

Links :

Savarkars Mercy Pettiton



Letters from Andaman

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