K.T. Gatti’s wife urges people to read Savarkar lesson in the right context

The controversial para, Yashoda Ammembala says, should be read as a metaphor and not literally

September 07, 2022 10:32 pm | Updated September 08, 2022 10:37 am IST - Bengaluru

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

The family of Kannada writer K.T. Gatti, whose essay on the Cellular Jail in Andaman where Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar was incarcerated had turned controversial, has released a clarification.

Yashoda Ammembala, the wife of Mr. Gatti who is unwell, while issuing a statement on his behalf, has argued the lesson ‘Kalavannu Geddavaru’, now part of school textbook, should be read as part of the language curriculum and not the history curriculum. “Being a travelogue, it is not meant to be considered a source for historic facts,” she said in her note. The lesson in Class VIII Kannada second language textbook has been criticised for “glorification” of Savarkar.

Not aware of inclusion

Ms. Gatti said in her clarification, “We were not aware of its inclusion in the textbook until this controversy broke out.” She said the excerpted article was part of a book published in 1996.

“Savarkar’s article is only one of several accounts of prison experiences presented in the book. The rest, presented in five chapters, are based on personal interviews of two ex-jail inmates, three relatives of ex-jail inmates, a Maharashtrian jail officer, and a few other local respondents. Mr. Gatti’s account of Savarkar in the book includes nothing more than his Andaman jail experiences. There is no mention of the nature of his role in the freedom struggle or any detail about his ideology.” In fact, there is no mention of Savarkar in any of the author’s writings to suggest he had any information about Savarkar besides what is presented in the book. Around 30% of the chapter contains quotes from the book, ‘Swatantrya Veera Savarkar’ (by Mathoor Krishnamurthy, 1966). Savarkar’s autobiography is also among the sources listed in the bibliography,” she mentioned the statement.

‘Read it as metaphor’

On one particular paragraph that had turned controversial that described Savarkar “as flying out of the prison on the wings of bulbul”, she said, “It is self-evident that it is nothing but a metaphor. Much of the confusion appears to have been caused by the absence of context/reference in the passage, which may be due to the author’s oversight or an editorial error... Those familiar with K. T. Gatti’s literature are unlikely to assume that the metaphor was meant to glorify Savarkar by an admirer of his ideology, and may not need any clarification regarding this.”

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