Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nehru and Patel communicate about Gandhi Assasination Investigation: Patel clean chits RSS (almost)

New Delhi
26 February 1948
 My dear Vallabhbhai,

You are so terribly busy, and I am pretty well occupied, that I hesitate to add to your work. I feel however that I must tell you what I have had in my mind for some days
While the investigation about Bapu's assassination by Godse is proceeding here and [in] Bombay and elsewhere, there appears to be a certain lack of real effort in tracing the larger Conspiracy. More and more I have come to the conclusion that Bapu's murder was not an isolated business but a part of a much wider campaign organised chiefly by the RSS. A large number of RSS men have been arrested, probably many of them more or less innocent. But a considerable number of their key men are still abroad or underground or even sometimes flourishing in the open. Many of these people are in our offices and in the police. It is hardly possible to keep anything secret from their group. I was told the other day by a responsible police officer that no search could be conducted in secret because previous intimation always reached the parties concerned.

The Delhi police has apparently a goodly number of sympathizers with the RSS. It may not be easy to deal with all of them. But I think something more than has been done can be undertaken. I have little doubt that the RSS organisation is still fairly active in many ways and will hit back when it can. To be complacent about it might lead to fresh disaster. I am told that they have taken to a number of apparently innocent activities and are utilizing them to keep their organisation in proper trim.

I do not know what exactly to suggest to you. But I have a feeling of uneasiness about the situation in Delhi specially. I think the police and the local authorities have to be kept up to the mark. They have a habit of slackening off after the spurt. What is more dangerous is that a number of them appear to sympathize with the RSS. Hence an impression is created that nothing very effective is being done. Effectiveness does not mean mass arrests but the singling out of people who count and whose potentiality for mischief is great.

Yours affectionately,
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel

New Delhi 
27 February 1948

My dear Jawaharlal,

Thank you for your letter dated 26 February 1948 which I received just now.

I have kept myself almost in daily touch with the progress of the investigation regarding Bapu's assassination case. I devote a large part of my evening to discussing with Sanjevi the day's progress and giving instructions to him on any points that arise. All the main accused have given long and detailed statements of their activities. In one case, the statement extends to ninety typed pages. From their statements, it is quite clear that no part of the conspiracy took place in Delhi. The centres of acti­vity were Poona, Bombay, Ahmednagar and Gwalior. Delhi was, of course, the terminating point of their activity, but by no means its center; nor do they seem to have spent more than a day or two at a time, and that too only twice between 19 and 30 January. It also clearly emerges from these statements that the RSS was not involved in it at all. It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha, directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through. It also appears that the conspiracy was limited to some ten men, of whom all except two have been got hold of. Every bit of these statements is being carefully checked up and verified and scrutinized, and where necessary, followed up. San­jevi devotes a considerable time every day to it. Senior officers of Bombay and GP are in charge of the investigation. Delhi police hardly comes in the picture.

Of course, it is impossible for us at this stage to publicize any of these things or to say anything publicly about what is being done to unearth the conspiracy. Every item of information that is being communicated to us through sources, known and unknown, real, anonymous or pseudonymous, is being investigated. More than 90 per cent of these have been found to be just imagination. Most of these have been directed to the activities of RSS men in various centers. We have followed this up, and except vague allegations that sweets were distributed or joy was expressed, hardly anything of substance has been found in them. After having dealt with these matters at first hand and discussed these matters in detail with Sanjevi and other officers who are in charge of this investigation, including the Public Prosecutor of Bombay, Mr, Pettigarah, who has been advising the investigators on legal points, I have come to the conclusion that the conspiracy of Bapu's assassination was not so wide as is generally assumed, but was restricted to a handful of men who have been his enemies for a very considerable time:—the antipathy can be traced right to the time when Bapu went for his talks with Jinnah, when Godse went on a fast and some others of the conspirators went to Wardha to prevent him [Bapu] from going. Of course, his assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and the Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy. But beyond this, I do not think it is possible, on the evidence which has come before us, to implicate any other members of the RSS or the Hindu Mahasabha. The RSS have undoubtedly other sins and crimes to answer for, but not for this one. If you have any time, I would be glad to send to you Sanjevi and Rana, DIG, CID, Bombay, who are here. They could explain to you the whole case as it has emerged from the investigation. They say they will take another ten days or a fortnight, at the end of which the case will be ripe for being placed in the hands of the Public Prosecutor. As soon as the Public Prosecutor is ready, we hope to appoint a Special Judge to try the case in Delhi.
As regards the RSS in Delhi, I am not aware of any prominent men or active workers whom we have left out. We hear all sorts of reports from somebody or the other regarding a certain person being an active member or not. In some cases, on such reports, arrests were made, and we soon found representation coming from Congressmen themselves testifying to their Congress sympathies and anti-RSS views. We had to release them. In other cases, on arrests of RSS people being made on similar information both we and the Provincial Governments are being accused of rounding up innocent people. In, the case of a secret organisation like the RSS which has no records of membership, no registers, etc., securing of authentic information whether a particular individual is an active worker or not is rendered a very difficult task. Nevertheless, I am assured that practically all the important workers of RSS in Delhi have been rounded up. Indeed, some knowledgeable people tell me that we have rounded up more than necessary. I have already asked Provincial Governments, including Delhi, to let us know what has been the result of these arrests, how many have been arrested, how many have been released, what has been revealed in searches, etc. As soon as these reports come in, we shall have to consider our next step. If there are any key men who are still at large, I should like to know their names, so that we can follow them up.

I quite realize that police and the local authorities who are in Delhi or elsewhere have an appreciable number of RSS sympathizers. Here again, however, the difficulty is to locate the men. Whenever I have received the least information about the names, and particulars of any RSS men in Government service, I have communicated them to Sanjevi or Mehra. In some cases, Government servants in Delhi have already been arrested for RSS activities. Delhi's quota of RSS arrests compares favorably with that of any other place or province. I doubt, therefore, whether the accusation can be substantiated that Delhi police or local authorities have been inactive on account of RSS sympathies. However, I shall again have a discussion with Mehra on the particular problems which you have mentioned and see what further action could be taken.

Yours sincerely, 
Vallabhbhai Patel
The Hon'ble Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru
New Delhi

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