Associates in Hindutva Movement

 

Gajanan Vishwanath Ketkar
Grandson of Lokmanya Tilak. BA, LLB. Editor of Kesari and Mahratta. Senior worker of Hindu Mahasabha. Managed the office work during the Bhaganagar (Hyderabad) unarmed resistance in 1938. Participated in the 1941 Bhagalpur Hindu Mahasabha session that was banned by the Government. Was treasurer of Maharashtra Hindu Sabha for several years. Raised funds for the defence of Savarkar when the latter was implicated by the Nehru Government in the Gandhi murder. Mediated in the talks between the Nehru Government and the then banned Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1948. Was imprisoned again for four months in 1950 and again in 1964.

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Vasudeo Balwant Gogate
Studied LLB and BA in Miraj and Pune. Settled in Pune. While he was studying in Fergusson College, Pune in 1931, the Government hanged to death sixteen innocent people for violating the martial law. As revenge, Gogate attempted to assassinate Hotson the then Governor by firing shots at him. Was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for this. Released in 1937. Thereafter did LLB and started practicing law. Was imprisoned in the aftermath of the Gandhi murder in 1948. Was member of Hindu Mahasabha. Was member and later Mayor of the Pune Municipal Corporation. Was elected from the Graduates’ constituency to the Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad (Upper House). Was Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Vidhan Parishad. Played leading role in erecting memorial to revolutionary Vasudeo Balwant Phadke. Died on 24 November 1974.

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Gajanan Vishnu Damle
Son of Vishnupant Damle of Shirgaon. Savarkar had stayed from 24 November 1924 to 20 June 1925 at Vishnupant Damle’s house when there was plague in Ratnagiri. It was there that Savarkar wrote his English book Hindu padpaadshahi. Became Savarkar’s personal secretary when Savarkar came to Mumbai in 1937. Accompanied Savarkar on his whirlwind tours. Participated and imprisoned in the Bhaganagar (Hyderabad) unarmed resistance in 1938. Arrested in the Mumbai riots in 1946. Was imprisoned for a long time in the aftermath of the Gandhi murder in 1948. Selfless worker of the Hindu Mahasabha.

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Appa Kasar
Hailed from Miraj. Participated and imprisoned in the Bhaganagar (Hyderabad) unarmed resistance in 1938. Worked as Savarkar’s personal bodyguard during his tours. Selfless worker of the Hindu Mahasabha. Was imprisoned and tortured severely (his nails were plucked out) after the Gandhi murder in 1948 so that that he might implicate Savarkar. Bravely withstood police brutality but refused to unjustly implicate Savarkar. Participated and imprisoned during the agitation against the Eucharist Congress held in Mumbai in 1963.

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Narsimha Chintaman or Tatyasaheb Kelkar
Born 24 August 1872; BA, LLB, started as a lawyer in Satara (Maharashtra); was called by Lokmanya Tilak to Pune in 1896. Was editor of Kesari-Mahratta newspapers for 41 years; was trustee of Kesari trust. In 1916, took the lead in organizing the 60th birthday celebrations of Tilak and collected Rs. one lac for that purpose. After the death of Tilak in 1920, he became one of the foremost leaders of the Tilakites in the Congress. Was a member of the Viceroy’s Council from 1924-1929. Was president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha twice (Jabalpur, 1928 and Delhi 1932). Noted litterateur, popularly called Sahityasamrat. Died on 14 October 1947.

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Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee
Born in 1895, Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee or NC Chatterjee as he was better known was the eldest son of Bholanath Chatterjee, an officer in the engineering department of the Calcutta municipality. He had four brothers and one sister. He was a student of the first batch of Mitra Institution which subsequently became one of the most renowned schools in Calcutta. In 1912, while Chatterjee was in college, his father resigned without a second thought when he was superseded by a British officer. The family had no other means of income. As Chatterjee could not afford the bus or tram fare, he would often walk to his college, Scottish Church College in central Calcutta, a distance of nearly seven or eight miles from the family residence in south Calcutta. The family gradually settled down when his father started a small business, which brought in a regular income.

Chatterjee was a good student and did well in all his examinations. He was awarded the prestigious Premchand Roychand Scholarship of Calcutta University. During his student days, he enjoyed the affection of Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, well-known mathematician, Sanskrit scholar and later vice chancellor of Calcutta University. Chatterjee did his MA in history, became a law graduate of Calcutta University and, in 1916, started his career as a vakil, as Indian lawyers were then called at the initial stage of their practice. Only later were they eligible to be enrolled as advocates in the High Court. In those days, only barristers could practice in what was known as the Original Side (being the lucrative side) of the Calcutta High Court. In view of his consistently good results in different examinations, Sir Ashutosh encouraged Chatterjee to go to England to become a barrister He became a student of Middle Temple.

But the family had no resources and, obviously, Chatterjee who had just become a lawyer, could not afford to go to England on his own. As such, he borrowed about Rs. 3,000 from one of his uncles, and left for England in 1922. Those days one could survive in England on such a modest amount for about nine or ten months, though with considerable difficulty, often skipping a meal. One had also to pay the necessary tuition fee. As Chatterjee was enrolled in the Calcutta High Court as an advocate and had a law degree, the Inns of Court (the society that conducts the Bar examinations) exempted him from appearing in Part I of the Bar examination and also from attending most of the dinners, which a Bar student had to compulsorily attend, and for which one had to pay from one’s own pocket. Chatterjee realized he had to complete his course before his money ran out and justify his faith reposed in him by Sir Ashutosh and his own family. He completed his bar examination in ten months, which was a record. He stood first in Class I of the bar examination, one of the most difficult of the lot. He was the first Indian to do so. He also won the prestigious Langdon Medal for his proficiency in Hindu law. When he left England, the power of his reading glasses was -2. When he came back after his brilliant results, it was -12, which shows how much time and attention he had devoted to his studies at what cost! Chatterjee returned to India in 1923 after becoming a barrister and soon made rapid progress.

During his early days as a barrister, when he applied to become a member of the Bar Library Club of the Calcutta High Court, without which a barrister could not function, some vested interests tried to create difficulties. There was also a rumour that he may not be admitted to the Bar Library Club. Not being a member of the Club would have made it almost impossible for him to practice as a barrister. Coming to know of it, the then Hon, Chief Justice of the High Court told him, ‘NC, if you are not given the membership of the Bar Library, I shall provide a room for you next to my chamber, so that you can carry on with your practice.’ When this became known, he was admitted as a member.

As Chatterjee’s practice picked up (and the first thing he did was to repay the loan that he had taken from his uncle), it became necessary for him to have more space for his chamber and growing library. Initially, he rented a building across his ancestral house in Bhowanipur. Soon, even that became quite inadequate and in 1934 his father persuaded Chatterjee to move to a larger place. At the instance of his father and brothers, Nirmal Chandra purchased a plot of land at Theatre Road (now known as Shakespeare Sarani) and shifted there in 1936.

NC Chatterjee married to Binapani, daughter of Rai Bahadur Debendra Kumar Mukherjee, the first Indian director of land records, Assam. He had three daughters and three sons. His youngest son Somnath became a distinguished Parliamentarian and Speaker of Lok Sabha from 2004 to 2009.

In 1940, NC Chatterjee was elected a councillor of the Hindu Mahasabha to the corporation of Calcutta from Ballygunge constituency, defeating a well-known Congress candidate. Fifteen out of ninety-eight councillors were from the Hindu Mahasabha.

That Hindu Mahasabha support to the anti-Nazi war effort was not merely tactical but to quite an extent also ideological, is shown by a series of statements by Nirmal Chandra Chatterjee, president of the Bengal Hindu Mahasabha and vice-president of the All-India Hindu Mahasabha. He declared in February 1941: "Our passionate adherence to democracy and freedom is based on the spiritual recognition of the Divinity of man. We are not only non-communal but we are nationalists and democrats. The Anti-Fascist Front must extend from the English Channel to the Bay of Bengal." (Hindu Politics, Calcutta 1945, p.13)

He too had taken the habit of loosely labelling hostile forces as "fascist", e.g. in his opposition to a 1939 Muslim League proposal to communalize the municipal elections in Calcutta: "We must resist these reactionary measures which are founded on the principle of communal Fascism." (Hindu Politics, p.21; note how back then words hadn't lost their meaning yet, so that "communalism" was identified with Muslim League politics, not with its opponents). He also compared them to the Norwegian Nazi collaborator Quisling: "Political Misfits are as dangerous as Quislings." (Hindu Politics, p.25) More substantially, he called the threat of a Japanese conquest "the direct calamity that can befall Bengal". (Hindu Politics, p.25)

All this is hardly the language of a collaborator with the Axis powers. For anyone still in doubt on the Hindu Mahasabha's position, he declared in March 1942: "In the conflict of ideologies the Hindus have made their position perfectly clear. We hate Nazism and Fascism. We are the enemies of Hitler and Mussolini. We are longing and struggling for our own emancipation and we want to repel any dictator who would try to reduce sections of humanity to slavery to serve the whims of his own megalomania." (Hindu Politics, p.26) And in December 1943: "We are wholeheartedly anti-Fascist. Every anti-Imperialist must be anti-Fascist." (Hindu Politics, p.68)

After the communal riots in Calcutta in August 1946, Chatterjee, then president of the Bengal Provincial Hindu Mahasabha, along with his party members, played an important role to bring about peace and harmony between the two communities. Chatterjee visited several villages in Noakhali in the aftermath of the riots to protect the rights of the grievously affected minority communities and to restore peace.

In 1946-47, Gandhi visited Noakhali and Calcutta. In Noakhali, he stayed in Srirampur village, where Chatterjee met him on 5 December 1946 to discuss the prevailing situation. After India achieved independence, the communal situation in Calcutta and many areas continued to be tense. In the months of August and September 1947, Gandhi stayed at Hydari Manzil at Beliaghata, Calcutta, as part of his efforts to restore peace. During that period, Chatterjee often went to Hydari Manzil. Gandhi had gone on a fast to bring about a change of heart among the people of Calcutta. Leaders of different communities and parties, including Chatterjee made earnest requests to Gandhi to break his fast as his condition was deteriorating rapidly. On 4 September 1947, they were able to persuade him to do so.

NC Chatterjee became president of the All India Hindu Mahasabha and presided over the Gwalior session of the party. But after Partition and after the assassination of Gandhi, he became somewhat disenchanted with the party’s politics. Towards the end of 1947 and early 1948, he felt ill quite frequently and for months could not attend to his professional work. Doctors advised him that because of the serious attack of epidemic dropsy, he would not be able to lead an active life any more. He was then about fifty-three years old and the prospect of a restricted life obviously upset him very much. At this time, he got an offer for appointment as a judge of the Calcutta High Court and he agreed to accept the offer. There was speculation that he was offered this appointment so that he would not be able to defend Savarkar who had been implicated in the Gandhi Murder case. There was also some discontent among Savarkar acolytes that Chatterjee accepted this offer when he should have been defending Savarkar in the Gandhi Murder case. In July 1948, he became an additional judge and soon thereafter a permanent judge of the Calcutta High Court. During his tenure as a judge, there was obviously no question of his taking part in political activities. However, he resigned within fourteen months of accepting the judgeship along with a few other judges of different High Courts, because the government had proposed in the draft constitution that no one holding a judicial office would be allowed to do any legal work as lawyers after their resignation or retirement, which was earlier permitted.

In 1950, Chatterjee started practicing in the Supreme Court and shifted from Calcutta to Delhi, as he could no longer practice in the Calcutta High Court. Soon, he became the vice-president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and executive chairman of the Indian Law Institute. He thereafter also gradually renewed his association with the Hindu Mahasabha. On 27-29 April 1951, a special session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha was held in Jaipur under the Presidentship of Dr. NB Khare. NC Chatterjee, SR Date, VG Deshpande, VB Gogate and others supported a resolution that authorised the Working Committee of the Mahasabha to enlist the suffrage and support of non-Hindu citizens and to set up candidates, wherever possible from among them subject to their acceptance of the election manifesto of the Hindu Mahasabha. He contested in the first general election to the Lok Sabha in 1952 from the Hooghly parliamentary constituency in West Bengal as a Hindu Mahasabha candidate and was elected defeating Renuka Ray, a well-known Congress leader.

When Chatterjee contested the second Lok Sabha elections in 1957 as a candidate of the Hindu Mahasabha, he however lost. After a while, Chatterjee dissociated himself from active politics and concerned himself more and more with matters of civil liberties. He was one of the most distinguished office-bearers of the All India Civil Liberties Union and its president too. He organized the constitution of the important Mulla Commission and Sarjoo Prasad Commission of Enquiry, non-official bodies that looked into human rights violations and civil liberty issues. The reports of these commissions were outstanding documents. He was one of the most renowned lawyers of the Calcutta High Court but often appeared, without charging any fee, in cases concerning civil liberties and human rights. Some of these cases related to well-known communist leaders like Jyoti Basu, who had been detained under the Defence of India Rules. Chatterjee got the orders of their detention quashed. He also represented the Sikh leader Master Tara Singh whenever he was prosecuted by the Government of India.

In 1962, Chatterjee again decided to contest the general constituency from the Hooghly parliamentary constituency but this time as an independent candidate. He lost by a narrow margin to Prabhat Kar, the CPI leader. Though he won three of the seven assembly segments of the constituency, it was extremely difficult to win an election as an independent.

Snehangshu Kanta Acharya, well-known barrister and leader of the then undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) was a great admirer of Chatterjee. He was the driving force in building up the close relationship between Chatterjee and important leaders of the CPI. In 1963, a bye-election to the Lok Sabha was held after the member elected from the Burdwan parliamentary constituency was disqualified by the High Court following an election petition over his entered into a work contract with the government. Chatterjee was approached by CPI leaders like Jyoti Basu, Bhawani Sen, Benoy Choudhary (who belonged to Burdwan) and S.K. Acharya to contest the bye-election as an independent candidate supported by the party. At their request and that of many civil rights activists and leaders like Tridib Chowdhary, the well-known RSP leader who was himself an MP, Chatterjee agreed. He was elected from the Burdwan parliamentary constituency in 1963. Though an independent member, on many important issues he supported the views of the Left.

In 1966, Bengal was rocked by a food movement and the ruling Congress was accused of police repression on those who participated in the agitation. N C Chatterjee protested police excesses and lent his support to the movement, spearheaded by the Leftists and non-Congress elements. In 1967, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) decided to support him in the fourth Lok Sabha election from Burdwan, which he won defeating Narayan Choudhary, the powerful Congress leader. Though Chatterjee continued to remain an independent member in the House, he worked closely with the CPI (M) on almost all occasions. He also appeared in a few cases concerning civil liberties and trade unions on behalf of the party and its workers before the Supreme Court.

From 1968 onwards, Chatterjee’s health deteriorated due to an attack of cerebral thrombosis. He was in coma for nearly four months but his recovery surprised even the doctors treating him in Willingdon Hospital (now Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital). In 1969, in the elections held for the assembly in West Bengal, Chatterjee campaigned for candidates of the CPI(M) and addressed election meetings too. However, because of his failing health, he found it difficult to appear in courts or attend Parliament. Towards the latter half of 1970, Chatterjee decided he would no longer actively pursue either his professional or political career and shifted to Calcutta after spending twenty years in Delhi.

(The above material is heavily drawn from Somnath Chatterjee: Keeping the Faith: Memoirs of a Parliamentarian, HarperCollins Publishers India a joint venture with The India Today Group, New Delhi 2010)

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Mahamahopadhyaya Siddheshwarshastri Chitrao
Sanskrit scholar; adorned with the titles of Mahamahopadhyaya and Vidyanidhi. Wrote extensively on dharmic issues. For some years, did editorial work in Shridhar Vyankatesh Ketakar’s ‘Dnyankosh’ (Encyclopaedia). In 1926-1927, he produced the first ever Marathi translation of the Rig-Veda samhita. He prepared the rites for shuddhi and wrote an insightful Marathi preface to this work. Gave great impetus to shuddhi movement in Maharashtra. From 1924 to 1933, he was president of the Pune city Hindu Sabha. Later, he formed the Bharatiya Charitrakosh Mandal (Indian Biographical Encyclopaedia Circle) and prepared biographies on ancient and modern personalities. Survived the Panshet floods that submerged Pune by sitting on the roof of the Amruteshwar temple.

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Shankar Ramchandra or Mamarao Date
Born 28 September 1898. Educated in Pune; secured BA degree in 1920. Worked in editorial department of ‘Loksangraha’ newspaper from 1920-1923. After 1923, did research in typing and printing of Devnagari alphabet. In 1931-1932, made the printing of Devnagari alphabet possible on ‘mono type’. Was secretary of Pune Hindu Sabha from 1924-1930; organized shuddhi programmes. Surveyed riot-hit Mahad in 1928. In 1938, surveyed and reported condition of Hindus under Nizam rule. Imprisoned during the Bhaganagar (Hyderabad) unarmed resistance in 1939. Was secretary of Maharashtra Hindu Sabha from 1940-1945. Imprisoned in 1948 and 1950. Became secretary of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha in 1950. Organized session of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha in Pune in 1950. Became vice-president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha in 1975. Published Chitraoshastri’s Marathi translation of the Rig-Veda, Mate’s book on the plight of untouchables, Balshastri Hardas’ lectures in Pune and Savarkar’s collected works. Edited Kaal newspaper from 1940-1955. Started Kaal weekly in 1967.

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Ganpat Mahadev Nalawade
Born in Pune on 10 February 1898. Studied till matriculation. Initially worked with his father who was a tobacconist. Later did farming. Started printing press in 1922. Published ‘Sangram’ weekly from 1925-1932. Member of Pune Corporation from 1928-1954. Became chairman and later member and Mayor of the Pune Municipal Corporation in 1942. Elected to the Mumbai Legislative Council in 1964. Was chairman of Merchants’ Co-operative Bank for 44 years and its president for six terms. President of Maharashtra provincial Hindu Sabha from 1954-1962. His printing press was burnt down in the riots following the Gandhi murder in 1948. Was imprisoned for four months each in 1948 and 1950. Was president of reception committee during the Hindu Mahasabha session held in Pune in 1975.

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Dr. Narayan Bhaskar Khare  B.A., M.D.,


 N B Khare

Born in  Panvel on March 19, 1884; Father Narayan Balla Khare was a lawyer with an unsteady income. educated at Maratha High School, Bombay, Government College, Jabalpur and at Medical College, Lahore. In 1907 he took his degree in Medicine securing first rank. He won the Dr. Rahimkhan gold medal and another medal for Surgery. In 1913 he became the first M.D of the Punjab University. When he was an undergraduate in the Government College he was asked to write an essay on the "Blessings of British Rule To India". The future Premier of C.P wrote with great gusto…. He gave a vivid account of the curses of British Imperialism and how it was gnawing away our very vitals. The Principal, Mr. Browning read the essay. It was hard for hard meat for him to digest. He became the flaming pillar of wrath.  His essay breathed sedition. So he was asked to give an explanation. As a consequence Nationalist journals like Amrit Bazar Patrika and Kesari were not allowed to be subscribed by the library. Imbued with Gandhian spirit he interested himself in politics. He became the trusted lieutenant of Narakesari Abhayankar. H played a notable part in imparting fresh vigour to the Congress movement in Central Provinces.

He was Member, Indian National Congress, 1916-38: President of the former C.P.P.C.C, Harijan Sewak Sangh, Nagpur and Member, A.I.C.C., for several years; Suffered imprisonment for participating in Civil Disobedience Movement; Member, C.P. Legislative Council, 1924—30, resigned in pursuance of the mandate by the Lahore Congress, in 1929; Founder and Editor of a Marathi paper "Tarun Bharat" to carry on Congress propaganda in 1926; Congress M.L.A. (Central), 1935—37; Initiated the Arya Marriage Validation Bill which was later put on the Statute Book; M.L.A. (C.P.), 1937—43; First Congress Premier of the former State of C.P. and Berar, 14th July, 1937 to 29th July, 1938; Formed the Capital Punishment Relief Society to help the Chimur and Ashti prisoners; Member, In charge of Commonwealth Relations Department, Viceroy's Executive Council, 7th May, 1943 to 3rd July, 1946; As a Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council was responsible for placing on the Statute book the Indian Reciprocity Act Amendment Bill and enforcing it against South African Europeans for getting acquitted all the highly placed Indians in Malaya, like Dr. Goho, who were charged with high treason and collaboration with the Japanese, for securing rights of citizenship for Indians domiciled in America, for withdrawing the High Commissioner of India from South Africa, for applying economic sanctions against South Africa and for lodging complaint against South Africa in U.N.O.; Presided over the Annual Session of the Brihan Maharashtra Parishad at Khandwa; Prime Minister of the former Alwar State, 19th April, 1947 to February, 1948; Member, Constituent Assembly of India, July, 1947 to February, 1948; Joined Hindu Mahasabha on l5th August, 1949, and was its President from 1949-51; Member of Parliament from Gwalior, Madhya Bharat, 1952.  Was a member of the Maharaja Bagh Club and Indian Gymkhana Club, Nagpur; Vice-President of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, 1954. His hobbies included playing chess and bridge. He wrote books such as "My Defence", "Some speeches and statements of Dr. Khare", "Biography" in Marathi—Vol. I, published in 1943 and Vol. II in 1950.

 

 

 

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