The Gwalior district administration and the Madhya Pradesh Police on Tuesday shut a library dedicated to the life and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, reported News18. The administration’s action came only two days after the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha inaugurated the Godse Gyanshala at Daulat Ganj area of the city.
On Monday, the district magistrate imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the gathering of four or more people in an area, because complaints poured in on social media. “A meeting was held with members of the Hindu Mahasabha and the gyanshala was shut down,” Gwalior Superintendent Amit Sanghi told The Indian Express. “All the literature, posters, banners and other materials were seized.
Hindu Mahasabha Vice President Jaiveer Bharadwaj also confirmed that library has been shut down, adding that members of the organisation cooperated due to law and order concerns. “We wanted our message to reach out to the people at large and this was done,” he told The Indian Express. “We did not want any law and order situation, so the library was shut down.”
An unidentified officer from the Department of Home said the state home minister ordered the police to act against the said facility, reported News18. The state is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party. However, no case has been registered against the facility yet.
The Opposition Congress criticised the government for not registering a first information report. “If the BJP government does not agree with someone, they call him a traitor and enemy of the nation,” party spokesperson KK Mishra said. “But in this case, the father of the nation has been insulted and yet there is not even an FIR.”
In 2017, the Hindu Mahasabha had installed a statue of Godse in Gwalior. It was removed soon and a case was registered against its members. “In 2017, an offence was registered as a statue was installed that violated provisions of the MP Freedom to Religion Act,” SP Sanghi told The Indian Express. “Although this time too there was a likelihood of them installing a statue, the library was shut down before that happened. There is no dispute about Mahatma Gandhi being the father of our nation and anything offending will attract police action.”
The Godse Gyanshala was set up to “instill true nationalism” among the youth as espoused by Godse, the Hindutva organisation had said. The library had literature on how Godse plotted the assassination, along with archives of his articles and speeches.
Godse was hanged to death at Ambala Jail on November 15, 1949, after he was convicted for killing Gandhi. Narayan Apte, a co-conspirator in the killing, was also sentenced to death with him. The Hindu Mahasabha observes their death anniversary as “sacrifice day”, according to PTI.
Many Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, particularly Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur, have expressed a similar view that Godse had done great service to the country. In the run-up to the General Elections of 2019, Thakur had called Godse a patriot. In November 2019, Thakur had once again referred to him as a patriot, this time in the Lok Sabha.