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Gandhi for the world and Godse for India. Subterfuge or plainspokenness

Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai

Washington: Today, October 2, 2023, the United Nations is observing ‘International Day of Non-Violence’ which is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

The day was established on June 15, 2007, according to United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/61/271. The UNGA resolution states that the day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence…through education and public awareness…and reaffirm the desire for a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”

Mr. Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations said, “Let us remember Gandhi’s wise counsel: ‘Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.’ Let us heed his words today and re-commit ourselves to this essential purpose.”

President Joseph Biden said during G20 meeting is New Delhi, “Mahatma Gandhi’s message of non-violence, respect, and truth matters today more than ever. May it continue to inspire the world and be the basis of the bond between our countries.”

President Biden also said on August 15, 2022, that “the United States joins the people of India to honor its democratic journey, guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s enduring message of truth and non-violence.”

Professor Gene Sharp, a leading scholar on non-violent resistance articulated it the best when he said that “Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively.” He further said that “there are three main categories of non-violence action: (1). protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils; (2). non-cooperation; and (3). non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.”

We do not doubt for a minute that both Mr. Guterres and President Biden mean when they paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. We simply want to say that both leaders must also heed to ‘wise counsel’ of Mahatma Gandhi what he said on July 29, 1947, “I am not going to suggest to the Maharaja (Ruler of Kashmir) to accede to India and not to Pakistan. The real sovereigns of the State are the people. The ruler is a servant of the people.”

Mahatma Gandhi has also said that “If the people of Kashmir are in favor of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. But they should be left free to decide for themselves.” (Gandhi’s Passion by Professor Stanley Wolpert, Page 247)

When Mahatma Gandhi was asked during his visit to Kashmir, what will happen to Kashmir after independence, Gandhi’ response was simple, “What will happen to Kashmir will depend on you, the people of Kashmir.”

And when Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, one of the most prominent Kashmiri historians and journalists asked Mahatma Gandhi in 1934, what the Maharaja of Kashmir should do, when majority of his subjects were Muslims. Gandhi responded via letter on May 5, 1934 that “Knowing that Kashmir is predominantly Musalman (Muslims), it is one day bound to become a Musalman State. Therefore, a Hindu prince can rule it only by not ruling i.e., doing as the Musalmans want him to do or by expedient is more than 1 can judge (From the History of Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir by Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, published by Kashmir publishing Company, 122 Kotla Mubarikpur, New Delhi, page 343).

Secondly, we would like to remind Mr. Guterres and President Biden that the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse was the member of Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the host of G20 summit and the prime minister of India, Maranda Modi is also member of RSS. What a commonality between the two!

Thirdly, Ms. Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, member of RSS and elected BJP member of Parliament said in December 2022 without any ambiguity that Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse is a “desh bhakt” (Nationalist). She said, “Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot… those who call him a terrorist should look within… they will get a reply to this election.”

From the above discussion, it becomes clear that Modi administration discreetly wants to put the foot on both camps. Image of Mahatma Gandhi to the world community and that of Nathuram Godse to Indian public. What an art of subterfuge!

Lastly, the reports of various international NGO’s and United Nations Special Rapporteurs show that the killing fields in Kashmir continue to be sown with the blood of women, children, and young boys. The United Nations and United States cannot simply stand by and allow India to continue to kill and torture and maim the people of Kashmir in this way. This must not stand. Perhaps now is the time for Antonio Guterres and President Biden to act on the vision of Gandhi and bring peace to the region of South Asia in general and in Kashmir in particular. They should realize that the time to merely try to defuse the tension between India and Pakistan is over. Now is the time to address the root cause of the tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad — the unresolved dispute over Kashmir.

–Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai is Chairman, World Forum for Peace & Justice

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