BHOPAL: On the 68th anniversary of the execution of Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi, the right-wing outfit Hindu Mahasabha installed Godse’s metallic statue in its office at Gwalior on Wednesday.
The development triggered a political controversy, with the opposition Congress taking to the street in Bhopal and the leader of opposition in state assembly Ajay Singh ‘Rahul’ demanding to lodge a treason case against those involved.
The ruling BJP and saffron outfit Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), however, distanced themselves from the Hindu Mahasabha. The state police higher-ups in Bhopal, meanwhile, said the local administration and police in Gwalior is alive to the development and is taking a legal opinion, based on which appropriate action will be taken.
On Tuesday morning, the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha (ABHM) observed the 68th anniversary of the execution of its two former members Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi as Balidan Diwas.
As part of the already decided program, the 32-inch metallic statue of Nathuram Godse fashioned by a Gwalior based idol-maker was installed at a makeshift Nathuram Godse temple inside the ABHM office in Daulatganj locality of Gwalior (425 km from Bhopal).
“The statue was installed and the temple started amid chanting of Vedic shlokas, followed by the Abhishek of the idol of Nathuram Godse, who is a nationalist and patriot for us. The 32-inch golden coloured metallic idol has been fashioned by a local artist in Gwalior and funded out of money contributed by five of our leaders,” ABHM vice-president Dr. Jaiveer Bhardwaj told the New Indian Express.
“A week back we had submitted a request to the local administration in Gwalior seeking land and permission for building the Nathuram Godse temple, but the authorities refused permission. After this we decided to start the temple and install the idol in our organisation’s office for which we don’t need anyone’s permission,” said Bhardwaj.
Another senior ABHM leader Kailash Narayan Sharma said the makeshift temple will be rendered more splendor in days to come. “We want to tell our young generations the true history that Godse was not a killer, but a Hindu nationalist, who eliminated Gandhiji to protest the slaughter of ten lakh Hindus due to country’s partition in 1947.”
Sharma said, “Gwalior was his (Godse’s) karmasthali, owing to which the idol has been installed at the temple in our Gwalior office. We’re planning similar temples in every state of the country. Statue of Godse exists in Karnataka as well as Meerut, but no one is protesting, so why are the Congress party people protesting in MP alone,” said Sharma.
Importantly, it was Gwalior only from where Godse and his aides are believed to have sourced the pistol which was reportedly used to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948.
Back in Bhopal, the inspector general of police (IG-Intelligence) Makarand Deuskar said “the administration and police in Gwalior are alive to the development and taking legal opinion in the matter to act accordingly. Cops are on full alert to deal with any law and order situation arising from the development in Gwalior.”
Meanwhile, Congress workers took to street against the development and demanded action against the culprits as well as seeking the state home minister’s resignation over the issue.
A leader of opposition in the state assembly, Ajay Singh ‘Rahul’ demanded that ABHM people be booked for treason. “The BJP has over 25-26 affiliate-wings which remain engaged in bizarre acts and later the BJP disowns their deeds.”
Two important ministers, including state home minister Bhupendra Singh and health minister Rustam Singh, expressed ignorance over the development.
The state BJP and VHP distanced selves from the developments in Gwalior, “People who have indulged in the act in Gwalior should be asked about it and not us. Only they can tell why they want a temple,” said state BJP general secretary VD Sharma.
VHP leader Rajesh Tiwari said, “Our organization had no part to play in the statue installation or temple plan.”