Massacre of "Chitpavan Brahmins" of Maharashtra, 1948 - an overlooked dark chapter in Indian History!!

1948 massacre of Chitpavan Brahmins of

The Indian history syllabus conceived decades ago purposely left out  vital contributions made by  leaders like Subhash Chandra Bose, V.O. Chidambaram, et al, some violent events taken place during the freedom struggle and later post independence in 1948. From historical perspectives  there is no reasonable coverage of countless dynasties of past  ancient Indian rulers. The History book was written by experts  according to the whims of some of  then  most prominent  leaders of the Congress party at the helm of  power. Many real historical facts were either deliberately ignored or overlooked. So, the past Indian history has lots of flaws  that need to be corrected. 

During the most tumultuous time that had emerged when Gandhiji was unfortunately shot dead  on the 30th of January, 1948 the media published a  series of reports  on the  tragic assassination  and the assassin Nathuram Godse.  Godse shot dead Gandhiji from point-blank range. For some time India and across the globe  it became a sensational scoop and the story got the special attention because Gandhiji was a proponent of non-violence throughout his life. Godse frankly confessed to his crime and explained to the court why he took an undesirable  decision on his own to kill Gandhiji.  Godse and his brother  were convicted and hanged in the Ambala jail on 15 November 1949.   

1948 rioting mob after Gandhiji's killing

Though the death of Gandhiji and the court proceedings were the subject of most of the print media, it is quite saddening there was less coverage about the violent rampage and riots that had immediately followed in the wake of Gandhiji's killing. It was quite painful and disparaging, a section of the society mostly  supporters of Congress party instigated by Congress leadership targeted Chitpavan Brahmins of Maharashtra, their houses and business establishments. Reason: The assassin of Gandhiji Godse happened to be a Chitpavan Brahmin from Pune.They are  Hindu Maharashtrian Brahmin community inhabiting Konkan, the coastal region of the state of Maharashtra and they gained prominence in the corridors of power  during the 18th century when the heirs of Peshwa from the Bhat family of Balaji Vishwanath became the de facto rulers of the Maratha empire..

Chitpavan Brahmin of MH.

Hours after Gandhiji's assassination in the compound of Birla House (now Gandhi Smriti), a big mansion in central Delhi, the news of his death began to spread fast like the summer bushfire  across Maharashtra and other states. Soon many parts of Maharashtra saw violent rampage and rioting let loose by the frenzied mobs. The rampaging people further fueled by the congress party in cahoot with local hooligans and anti-brahmin groups, began to target Chitpavan Brahmin community to which Nathuram Godse hailed from and in  the following week, the hell-bent mobs armed with dangerous weapons, kerosene canisters, iron rods, machetes, etc  targeted Brahmin homes, etc and went on an indiscriminate  killing spree,  not even sparing women and children.  The police failed to stop the unabated killing, raping and looting of Brahmin homes in places like Satara, Kolhapur, etc which became centers of violence.    According to Historians the rioters  did not spare Veer Savarkar's family.and damaged his  family properties. Further, they stoned to death his brother  brother  Veer Narayan Savarkar. 

 Besides poor response from  the police force,  The newspaper coverage on the killing of Brahmins was unsatisfactory.  About 300 districts and many talukas in Maharashtra  were under the grip of panic,  fear and mob frenzy. The Brahmins were left with no choice except  to flee or face death.  The official record pointed  out only 1000 Brahmin homes were burned down. The unofficial record of killing varies from 5000 to 8000 Chitpavan Brahmins in the aftermath of Gandhiji's murder in Delhi in early 1948.  

 Vigilantism  has no room in any society and it is retrograde. Just because a few from a particular community commit a horrible crime, holding the entire community to ransom or make threats to life is not acceptable in a democracy. In this case of large scale killing of Brahmins in scattered parts of Maharashtra, the trigger was  ''instigation''  by the  then Congress leadership that  misguided  a  section of party workers to commit this horrendous crime - killing their own people who were part of their culture and speak the same language.  Had the Congress leadership been careful and used discretion,  this massacre of innocent Chitpavan Brahmins could have been avoided. Historians  who  say 100s of congress workers participated in carnage in places like Nagpur and no case was filed against them. Yet another dark part of Indian history that lies hidden is the killing of innocent  Chitpavan Brahmins  of Maharashtra. That every year the leaders pay tribute to Gandhiji on his death anniversary, but none of them say a word about the massacre of the Chitpavan Brahmin community.

''A New York Times article soon after the assassination put the number of mortal victims in Bombay (now Mumbai) alone, and on the very first day, at 15. Elst believes the death toll "may well run into several hundreds", but sadly no study has been done so far on the violence which soon took a casteist turn as the Marathas joined the killers' bandwagon to settle historical scores with the Brahimins.''

Maureen L B Patterson, who wrote a book, Gandhi and Godse, said, “when I was conducting research on Chitpavan Brahmins after two decades of Gandhi’s assassination, the police did not allow her to access the files that pertained to the anti Brahmin riots in 1948.” Maureen L B Patterson found, in her research, that violence against Brahmins, after Gandhi’s assassination did not take place in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, which were strongholds of Hindu nationalists, but it was small towns like Satara, Belgaum and Kolhapur, which were badly affected.....

History is history, notwithstanding their nature political or ideological perspectives, historical events should never be crucified or relegated to the backside. As for the massacre of innocent Chitpavan Brahmins of Maharashtra in 1948 who had nothing to do  with Gandhiji's murder by Godse, that part of Indian history is deeply buried.