Mumbai : Chicago-based retired PR professional Shridhar Damle has devoted his post retirement life researching Veer Savarkar’s contribution to country’s freedom struggle and his contacts abroad. Damle, an ardent Savarkar follower, received valuable informations for his study in the US, UK and France. However, the Maharashtra Police have thrown a spanner in his works.
For the past three years, Damle has been trying to access several documents pertaining to Savarkar, which are in the Maharashtra government’s custody. Earlier, he got a clearance from then Home Minister R R Patil and current Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but police have refused to allow access to the files.
Savarkar, born on May 28, 1883 was a pro-Independence activist, politician, poet, writer and playwright. He advocated dismantling the caste system and reconversion of converted Hindus back to Hinduism and created the term ‘Hindutva’. He died on February 26, 1966.
Damle has been researching about Savarkar to write a book on him. He has photo copies of around 40,000 pages on Savarkar from the archives in the US, UK and France. The pages contain some confidential records as well.
“It is very easy to get informations in foreign countries, even if it is confidential, but it’s not the same in Maharashtra,” Damle told Express.
“The laws say every record should be made public after 26 years. Police officers interviewed me four times when I sought permission to access the files. They asked me some ridiculous questions like why I wanted the information, how will it change the common man’s life, what is the guarantee that I will use it for writing a book. I am just tired of their attitude,” he says.
Damle grew up in Mumbai but left to US and worked as a PR officer for a multi-national bank. He visits India occassionally for his study.
He has gathered piles of information on Savarkar from 1911 to 1943. The records have revealed several unknown facts on him and his activities abroad.
“The confidential records shows that Savarkar was caught by two Indian soldiers in the British Army in France when he had an epic leap from British custody in the French port of Marseilles in July 1910. The British government had lied in the international court that the French police had arrested Savarkar and later handed over him to them,” Damle says.
According to him, one of the Indian soldiers was from Savarkar’s hometown, Nashik.
He was chosen because he recognised Savarkar. The other soldier was to keep a watch on his colleague in arms.
Damle wants to access records from 1943 to 1956, a very crucial period before and after Independence. He believes that there are several unknown facts hidden in the post-1943 files. They include details on Savarkar’s meetings with Subhash Chandra Bose, the then king of Nepal and Adolf Hitler’s banking advisor, as well as relations between Savarkar and Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
“Hitler’s banking advisor had called on Savarkar in 1941 at his residence in Bombay (now Mumbai). Intelligence Bureau officers had sent a report of this meeting to their superiors. This report is a part of the Savarkar files in the government’s custody,” Damle said.
Source : New Indian Express