ALIGARH: The Nation, wrote Rabindranath Tagore, “is the aspect of a whole people as an organised power. This organisation incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on becoming strong and efficient. But this strenuous effort after strength and efficiency drains man's energy from his higher nature where he is self-sacrificing and creative.

“For thereby man's power of sacrifice is diverted from his ultimate object, which is moral, to the maintenance of this organisation, which is mechanical. Yet in this he feels all the satisfaction of moral exaltation and therefore becomes supremely dangerous to humanity.”

On the afternoon of January 30, as the country presumably mourned the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, a group of members of the Hindu Mahasabha collected outside the organisation’s office in the city’s Naurangabad locality, to celebrate the occasion as Shaurya Divas (Day of Valour).

After burning a portrait of Gandhi, led by their national general secretary Puja Shakun Pandey they garlanded a picture of his assassin Nathuram Godse, claiming he was the “true Mahatma”. They went on to distribute sweets in celebration of Godse’s act.

As video clips of the Hindu Mahasabha’s celebrations went viral, the police finally registered a case against 11 persons, arresting three. Senior Superintendent of Police in Aligarh Aakash Kulhari told this writer that “further action will be taken against all the guilty persons.”

Earlier this month a youth organisation associated with the governing Bharatiya Janata Party had raised much noise after Aligarh Muslim University authorities issued it a showcause notice for holding a “tiranga yatra” (tricolour pilgrimage) without permission, four days before Republic Day.

The MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam, BJP, reacting to the showcause notice said that the AMU authorities were “insane” for questioning anyone who organises a tiranga yatra.

Other BJP leaders asked, “If such a yatra is not held in India should it be held in Pakistan?”

Responding to this, AMU spokesperson Shafey Kidwai told this writer, “How can anyone in his senses oppose a genuine tiranga yatra? But this so-called yatra was held not for celebrating our unity but for deliberately trying to disturb the peace on campus by trying to provoke other students.”

Kidwai said it was mandatory for everyone to take permission before bolding any public event on AMU premises. He pointed out that the university had a week-long schedule of celebrations for Republic Day, and that it was very disturbing to hear this sort of criticism “just because we were trying to maintain harmony on campus!”

Commenting on the sequence of events in Aligarh over the past week, former president of the AMU students’ union Faizul Hasan said, “AMU students are second to none in our patriotism. On January 30, when some people were burning an effigy of the father of the nation, we were at that very time burning an effigy of his assassin Godse, and raising the slogan Mahtama Gandhi Zindabad (Long Live Mahatma Gandhi).”

“Tell me,” Hasan asked, “Are they nationalists or are we?”