Friday, January 31, 2014

Burning for Freedom, Excerpt 4




 Hi, Everyone! Here is Excerpt 4 from Chapter 16 of Burning for Freedom. The last paragraph is deleted from the book from space considerations.

"October 28: Gandhi left Delhi for his tour of Bengal after concluding, so he said, “his important work”—the swearing in of the Muslim League into the Interim Government …? In Calcutta his nonviolent soul warmly welcomed the perpetrators of this horrendous violence, the League leaders! Did he even ask them to desist? Did he administer to them the mildest of reproofs? No! He claimed them as brothers, expressing a wish to enjoy their hospitality.
Then, spouting advice of nonviolence to the Hindus, the Mahatma set off on November 6—almost a month after the onset of the reign of terror, after the worst of its fury— on his journey of mercy to Noakhali to apply mere Band-Aids to the gaping, bleeding wounds of the Hindus. His safety was assured not only by an Armed Guard but also a volunteer Sikh group …! He was the Mahatma; of course, Gandhi was obliged to sacrifice his “staunch” principle of nonviolence to save his own valuable skin. The Hindu common man now—of what value was his life? He was a mere statistic!
In Noakhali, under the very nose of Gandhi and his relief workers, incidents of rape and violence were perpetrated upon the Hindus! Had the Mahatma, the undisputed leader of Congress, no power to prevent the atrocities committed in his presence? He had no protest, no consequence, to offer the Muslim police who brushed off petitions and encouraged violence? He could not ensure that the relief volunteers sporting the Red Cross badges were not the violent aggressors themselves? Could he not spare one armed guard from his enormous armed entourage, to protect the devastated Hindus? Evidently not!
Unable to bear both, the horror of the League violence perpetrated upon their brethren in Bengal and the lack of response from the Congress and the Viceroy in protecting them, Hindus in the neighboring Bihar went berserk. They indulged in a spree of violence, matching that of the Muslim League, against the Muslim minority living there. But the Government response was drastically different. Nehru and Wavell rushed to Bihar to control the Hindus. Nehru made aerial tours, threatening to throw bombs and open firing into Hindu crowds if they did not desist. And Gandhi brought out his ultimate weapon—he went on a fast, not to be broken until the Hindus in Bihar stopped the violence. This government policy of reprisals for the Hindus only caused an uproar in the media. Even the Congress press was moved to protest: “If Nehru’s body must fall, it must fall in Noakhali. If Gandhi must fast, he must fast for Noakhali. Justice for Noakhali!”
It all fell on deaf government ears.
India was afire, her people in dire, dire straits, and in middle of this crisis, their Mahatma once more indulged in sexual “experiments” of a perverse nature. At the age of seventy-seven—while in Noakhali on his mission of mercy—he “slept” naked in the arms of his naked teenage grandniece, Manu, behind closed doors! She was his personal attendant and gave him his daily bath with massage—among other things.
This scandal threatened to erupt; indeed, Gandhi shamelessly wanted to make a public statement of the “purity” of his sexual predilection for young girls. What was so offensive, he declared, he had been doing such “experiments” for fifty years now …! 
When his ‘purity’ was challenged, the Mahatma flew into a rage until his body was consumed by tremors. Aghast, his devotees would rush to hold him tight until the tremors passed. But, disenchantment with the Mahatma grew in many Hindu hearts."


Anurupa 

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