Barely two days after its inauguration, the Gwalior-based Godse Gyanshala, a library dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, has been shut down. According to the Indian Express, the library was shut down a day after the District Magistrate imposed Section 144 to ensure law and order in the city. The crisis was threatening to erupt after the right-wing group Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha’s (ABHM) act of opening a library to propagate the ideology of the man who killed Gandhi, fuelled massive public outrage.
After the ABHM’s library dedicated to Godse was shut down by district authorities on Tuesday, January 12, all its material was also seized over law and order concerns. This action came a day after the District Magistrate imposed Section 144 in the area to ensure law and order. Gwalior Superintendent Amit Sanghi told the Indian Express, “A meeting was held with members of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Gyanshala was shut down. All the literature, posters, banners and other materials were seized”. The library was also planning to hold lectures on Godse’s journey and Mahatma Gandhi’s “failure” to stop the Partition stated the IE news report.
However, the Hindu Mahasabha vice-president Jaiveer Bharadwaj is pleased with the publicity his project has gotten so far. “We wanted our message to reach out to the people at large and this was done. We did not want any law and order situation, so the library was shut down,” he told IE. Just like the publicity they garnered in 2017, the Hindu Mahasabha installed a Godse statue or which the right-wing reportedly hailed as a ‘temple’, where they planned to hold prayer meetings. It was also removed by the local authorities and a case was registered against the members of the Mahasabha. This time, however, no case has been registered so far, reported IE.
According to Congress spokesperson K K Mishra, “If the BJP government does not agree with someone, they call him a traitor and enemy of the nation. But in this case, the father of the nation has been insulted and yet there is not even an FIR.” SP Sanghi stated that the statue was removed in 2017, as an offence was registered because it violated provisions of the MP Freedom to Religion Act. He said that this time before they could install a statue, the library was shut down, adding “there is no dispute about Mahatma Gandhi being the father of our nation and anything offending will attract police action.”
Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha is keen that youth be ‘inspired’ by Nathuram Godse’s brand of ‘true nationalism’. It has for long been working on an image makeover for Godse, the idea is to show that he was a “true nationalist’ especially in its home turf Madhya Pradesh. This library, named the ‘Godse Gyan Shala’ (literally translates as Godse Knowledge Centre), was set up on Vishwa Hindi Diwas, at the Mahasabha’s office at Daulat Ganj. According to news reports the library was stocked with literature on how Godse ‘plotted the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, his articles and his speeches’. Nathuram Godse, a proponent of Hindu nationalism in his life, shot Gandhi thrice in the chest on January 30, 1948. Each year, on this date an online feud ensues between Gandhi-supporters and Nathuram-supporters.