NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today paid homage to Jawahar Lal Nehru on his death anniversary and hailed the contribution of Veer Savarkar for disapproving suggestions that events in 1857 were merely a "sepoy mutiny".
"Today is May 27, the death anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ji. I render my pranam to Pandit ji. Memories of this month are also linked with Veer Savarkar," he said in his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' radio address.
He recalled that in May 1857, Indians had displayed their strength against the British.
"It is indeed sad that we kept on calling the events of 1857 only as a rebellion or a soldiers' mutiny for a very long time.
In fact, May 1857 was not only evaluated as a minor historical incident but was also an attempt to dent our self-respect.
"It was Veer Savarkar who boldly expostulated by writing that whatever happened in 1857 was not a revolt but was indeed the first war of independence," he said.
Modi recalled that Savarkar, along with his band of brave hearts, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first war of independence with great fanfare at the India House in London.
He said while Savarkar is renowned for his bravery and his struggle against the British Raj, but he was also a striking poet and a social reformer who always emphasised on goodwill and unity.
Savarkar is credited with coining the term Hindutva to create a collective "Hindu" identity as an essence of India.
The prime minister also wished people on Eid which would be celebrated in a few days.
"I hope that the festival of Eid will further strengthen the bonds of harmony in our society.
Heartiest felicitations to all of you," he said.