My father told me that as a 16-year-old, he played his part in the struggle for independence. He claims he walked alongside Mahatma Gandhi and stayed beside him till the very end. There was a deep-rooted reverence about Gandhi in his eyes. He felt proud. How could I share certain disturbing chapters in his life without making my father disturbed himself? He is of the old school, not open to any criticism about Mahatma Gandhi.
The roles of various leaders during the time of partition are still shrouded in mystery. Who pushed for division and who wanted India to remain as one, we are not quite sure. We are not clear what Gandhi’s role was. A majority of historians believe that India, in general, has not even scratched the surface of the enigma called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He is the most prominent face of India’s struggle for independence, the most visible. We have seen so much of Gandhi doing the ‘walking’, we have seen so much of him delivering passionate speeches, that we don’t even care about the incidents that truly defined the man. I am no one to judge a personality like Gandhi, but I will still question certain reports in the public domain that reveal the dark side of Gandhi, the human being, not the freedom fighter.
Gandhi was soft on Muslims, no reason why he shouldn’t, but it’s the façade that is immoral. The apostle of non-violence nurtured violent, disturbing ideas. He basically asked Hindu women to not protest too much if a Muslim man tried to rape her! As shocking as it reads, it’s reportedly true.
On July 6, 1926, the edition of Navajivan carried a quote from Gandhi: “He would kiss the feet of the (Muslim) violator of the modesty of a sister”. Just before the partition, when both the Hindu and Sikh women were being raped by Muslims in large numbers in West Punjab, Gandhi advised women that if a Muslim expressed his desire to rape a Hindu or a Sikh lady, she should never refuse him, or protest. Rather, she should cooperate with him. She should lie down like a dead with her tongue in between her teeth.” Could he have really said this? I cannot believe!
The mindset is dictated by old-age practice. During the Muslim rule that lasted for nearly 800 years, raping Hindu women became a common affair. To save their honor and sanctity from the lecherous Muslims, millions of Hindu women sacrificed their lives. In the wake of the partition, most of the Hindu families of the Pakistan region became a victim of Muslim attacks, and raping the Hindu women was an integral part of it. When Hindus were converted in Naokhali in 1946, thousands of Hindu women fell victim to rape by Muslims.
During partition, when Hindu and Sikh refugees started pouring in from West Punjab, and were flooding the refugee camps of Delhi, Gandhi visited the camp one day and said, “Hindus should never get angry on Muslims, even if they decided to undo Hindu existence. Even if they put Hindus to death, they should face it bravely.” Gandhi was even recorded saying that Rana Pratap, Guru Govinda Singh, Raja Ranjit Singh and Raja Shivaji were misguided patriots, because they fought war with the Muslims.
His basic idea was that only Hindus are supposed to make sacrifices. Hindus are supposed to forgive and tolerate all the heinous crimes of Muslims without any complaint and protest. Khalifa Haji Mehmud of Lurwani, Sind, once said: “Gandhi was really a Mohammedan!”
Are these disturbing stories a figment of someone’s imagination, or is there something really deep and dark?