Dubai: On the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, several social media users paid tribute to the man who is known as Bapu (father) in India. One woman, however, instead decided to celebrate the man who killed Gandhi – Nathuram Godse – by recreating the assassination.
She is Pooja Shakun, national secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, a right-wing Hindu group, and seen in two videos that went viral on Twitter. Many social media users were shocked, and wondered how she and her co-workers were not booked for sedition.
In the first viral Twitter clip, Shakun can be seen holding a gun, during what looks like a media photo set-up. When she asks, “Should I shoot?” someone responds, “No, not yet, this is the photo session.”
Later, she shoots the effigy, and hits a blood bag that is tucked behind, making it seem like the effigy is bleeding.
The group around her can be heard chanting “Mahatma Nathuram Godse is immortal” and “Victory to All India Hindu Mahasabha”.
The incident took place in the city of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, and according to media reports, the group later garlanded an effigy of Godse and distributed sweets to ‘commemorate’ the assassination.
Tweep @DeepalTrevedie reacted to the news by writing: “Welcome to New #India. Some of us who wear saffron on our sleeves now observe #deathanniversary of #Gandhiji by recreating his assassination. Is it an obituary or a provocation to shoot him with an artificial pistol and see fake blood oozing out? #HeyRam [Gandhi’s last words]”
Twitter account @IronyOfIndia_ referred to the sedition charges that have been laid out against students in the Jawarlal Nehru University, asking: “No sedition? Is sedition made for only JNU students? #JustAsking”
Another user @imMAK02 wondered if the anti-national tag was only for a particular community, tweeting: “Hindu Mahasabha terrorists recreated #MahatmaGandhi assassination; shot Gandhi’s effigy but nobody will call them anti-national, no media trail … no sedition case ... NOTHING! Privilege of being from majority ...”
Another Twitter user @PJkanojia added: “Hindu Mahasabha celebrating a terrorist attack on Mahatma Gandhi … why are Muslims questioned over their loyalty for India?”
Death of an ideology
Many Twitter users also felt like the incident was symbolic of the lack of non-violence in the country. Gandhi’s movement of non-violent protests were a major part of the country’s freedom struggle during the colonial rule.
Twitter user @dhruv_rathee wrote: “70 years ago on this day, an ideology of hate bred to divide India [and] killed the greatest man of our country. Today, that ideology is at its worst in 70 yrs. It is our duty as citizens of India to remain united and discard that ideology of hate #MahatmaGandhi”
This is not the first time the Hindu Mahasabha has been involved in such a controversy. On India’s Republic Day on January 26 this year, they marked a ‘Black Day’, demanding a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (Hindu state).
Several right-wing groups have in the past praised Godse and marked India’s Republic Day as a Black Day, but today’s incident appears to be a first.