RSS’ TRYST WITH TERRORISM: PAST & PRESENT
Despite shrill public denials by the RSS top-brass that its swayamsevaks or cadres never indulged in terrorist activities, the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, while addressing a meeting of the RSS members on January 10, 2011 at Surat (Gujarat) made a significant statement saying that
of the majority of the people whom the government has accused (in various blast cases), a few had left voluntarily and a few were told by the Sangh that this extremism will not work here so you go away.1
It was a candid admission by the supremo of the RSS who was naturally better informed about the happenings within his organization which works in a clandestine fashion that many of these alleged terrorists were part of the RSS. This statement raises few questions which RSS as an organization must answer. The first is that RSS must share the names of those terrorists who left ‘voluntarily’ or were asked to ‘go away’ with the people of this country and especially with the police investigating agencies of the Indian State. In fact, the latter should have by now put Mohan Bhagwat under scanner to seek the names of these ‘terrorists’ not only in order to verify whether the ones so far arrested were the same who were referred to by Mohan Bhagwat but also to know about others who may still be indulging in terrorist activities and have not been brought to book as yet.
The whole issue raises another pertinent question. When RSS claims that a particular person indulging in terrorist activities is not its member, how do we verify it? Do we have an authenticated list of RSS members which can be referred to in case of need? The reality is that there is no such list and in the absence of such a list for an organization which functions in a regime of secrecy it becomes a convenient alibi for the RSS to deny its actual linkages with the individuals and organizations indulging in terrorist activities.
The individuals and organizations indulging in recent terrorist activities having close linkages with Hindutva philosophy and organizations like RSS should not surprise anybody. Any sectarian and theocratic organization which is programmed to the cleansing of religious minorities and undoing of a democratic-secular India has to be intolerant and extremist in its ideological moorings as well as functioning. RSS is no exception to this rule. A careful perusal of the documents from the RSS archives makes it clear that terrorist activities being indulged by persons and organizations associated with it are the outcome of an ideological mould outlined by its mentors.
The RSS as flag-bearer of Hindu nationalism always believed in the superiority of the Aryan race like Hitler and the Nazis. Racism is the common tie, which binds them. Hindus happened to be Aryans belonging to the National race whereas Muslims and Christians were foreigners because they followed religions, which took birth in non-Aryan foreign lands. The RSS divided religions professed in India into two categories, Indian and foreign. Interestingly, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were declared to be of the Indian variety but were not accorded the status of independent religions. These were simply treated as part of Hinduism. Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973), the most prominent ideologue of the RSS who came to head the organization after Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, naturally, inherited deep love for Fascism and Nazism from his seniors and stood for cleansing of the followers of religions which originated in foreign lands. He idealized the Nazi cultural nationalism of Hitler, which was nothing else but ‘ethnic cleansing’ of non-Aryans, in the following words which appeared in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined (1939); a book which became Geeta (or Bible) of the Hindutva politics:
The other Nation most in the eye of the world today is Germany. This Nation affords a very striking example. Modern Germany strove, and has to a great extent achieved what she strove for, to once again bring under one sway the whole of the territory, hereditarily possessed by the Germans but which, as a result of political disputes, had been portioned off as different countries under different states…German pride in their Fatherland for a definite home country, for which the race has traditional attachments as a necessary concomitant of the true Nation concept, awoke and ran the risk of starting a fresh world-conflagration, in order to establish one, unparalleled undisputed German Empire over all this ‘hereditary territory’. This natural and logical aspiration of Germany has almost been fulfilled and the great importance of the ‘country factor’ has been once again vindicated even in the living present. Come we next to the next ingredient of the Nation idea—Race, with which culture and language are inseparably connected, where religion is not the all- absorbing force that it should be. German Race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races-the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan [sic] to learn and profit by.2 [Emphasis added]
While outlining the constituent elements of the Hindu Nation Golwalkar raised a significant question,
If, as is indisputably proved, Hindusthan, is the land of Hindus and is the terra firma for the Hindu nation alone to flourish upon, what is to be the fate of all those, who, today, happen to live upon the land, though not belonging to the Hindu Race, Religion or culture?3
He answered to his own query in the following words:
At the outset we must bear in mind that so far as ‘nation’ is concerned, all those, who fall outside the five-fold limits of that idea,4 can have no place in the national life, unless they abandon their differences, adopt the religion, culture and language of the Nation and completely merge themselves in the National Race.5
Golwalkar unhesitatingly glorified the Race theory propagated by Hitler and Mussolini and subsequent cleansing of non-Aryans or minorities in the following words:
It is worth bearing well in mind how these old nations solve their minorities [sic] problem. They do not undertake to recognize any separate element in their polity. Emigrants have to get themselves naturally assimilated in the principal mass of the population, the National Race, by adopting its culture and language and sharing in its aspirations, by losing all consciousness of their separate existence, forgetting their foreign origin. If they do not do so, they live merely as outsiders, bound by all the codes and conventions of the Nation, at the sufferance of the Nation and deserving no special protection, far less any privilege or rights. There are only two courses open to the foreign elements, either to merge themselves in the national race and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy so long as the national race may allow them to do so and to quit the country at the sweet will of the national race. That is the only sound view on the minorities problem. That is the only logical and correct solution. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undisturbed. That alone keeps the nation safe from the danger of a cancer developing in its body politic, of the creation of a state within a state.6
Golwalkar as the most important ideologue of the RSS and Hindutva brand of politics forcefully argued for adopting the models of Hitler and Mussolini for getting rid off minorities from his kind of Hindu nation in the following words:
From this stand point, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation: let us deal as old nations ought to, and do deal, with the foreign races who have chosen to live in our country.7
Golwalkar did not mince words while expressing hatred for all those who differed with his notion of Hindu nation. For him all others were traitors or idiots. The use of this kind of intemperate language only showed to what extreme he and his followers could go in denigrating adversaries to be cleansed later.
Those, only are nationalist patriots, who, with the aspiration to glorify the Hindu race and nation next to their heart, are prompted into activity and strive to achieve that goal. All others are either traitors or enemies to the National cause, or, to take a charitable view, idiots.8
This kind of philosophy was not something of the bye-gone days of 1940s for RSS. It kept on resonating even after Independence. In fact, another basic book for the RSS cadres, Bunch of Thoughts, the compilation of the writings of MS Golwalkar, which appeared in 1966 had a long chapter titled, ‘Internal Threats’, (it continued to appear in all subsequent editions) in which the Muslims and Christians are described as threats number one and two respectively. The Communists get the status of being enemy number 3. This chapter opens with the following statement:
It has been the tragic lesson of the history of many a country in the world that the hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security then aggressors from outside.9
While treating the Muslims as hostile element number one Golwalkar went on to elaborate,
Even to this day there are so many who say, ‘Now there is no Muslim problem at all. All those riotous elements who supported Pakistan have gone away once for all. The remaining Muslims are devoted to our country. After all, they have no other place to go and they are bound to remain loyal…It would be suicidal to delude ourselves into believing that they have turned patriots overnight after the creation of Pakistan. On the contrary, the Muslim menace has increased a hundredfold by the creation of Pakistan, which has become a springboard for all their future aggressive designs on our country.10
Deliberating further on this enemy number one, Muslims, Golwalkar presented his thesis in the following words which provided excuse to the VHP cadres for exterminating the Muslim localities in Gujarat in the year 2002:
Within the country there are so many Muslim pockets, i.e., so many ‘miniature Pakistans’, where the general law of the land can be enforced only with certain modifications, and the whims of the miscreants have to be given the final say. This acceptance, indirect though it may be, implies a very dangerous theory fraught with possibilities of the destruction of our national life altogether. Such ‘pockets’ have verily become the centers of a widespread network of pro-Pakistani elements in this land…The conclusion is that, in practically every place, there are Muslims who are in constant touch with Pakistan over the transmitter…11
While deliberating on the ‘Internal Threat’ number two, he stated that the Christians were indulging in activities which were not only irreligious but also anti-national.12 According to him the Christians residing in India were,
out to demolish not only the religious and social fabric of our life but also to establish political domination in various pockets and if possible all over the land.13
Golwalkar’s hatred for minorities specially Muslims was inexhaustible and never-ending. In this regard there was no difference in his views contained in We or Our Nationhood Defined in 1939, or his hatred for Muslims in 1960. In fact, this hatred got wilder. While addressing the leading RSS cadres of south India in Bangalore on November 30, 1960, he declared:
‘Right from Delhi to Rampur, Muslims are busy hatching a dangerous plot, piling up arms and mobilizing their men, and probably biding their time to strike from within […]’14
There was no substantiation or proofs offered for such a serious allegation against whole of the Muslim community residing in the western Uttar Pradesh. If this was so it should have been brought to the notice of the law and order machinery in the area. It was never done because Golwalkar and RSS were simply interested in poisoning the minds of its cadres. More importantly the Indian State took no action against Golwalkar for spreading such a canard against common Muslims. It is not difficult to understand that it was due to such hate preaching against Muslims and Christians by the top brass of the RSS that large scale cleansing of minorities could be successfully undertaken by its swayamsevaks.
The central publication house of the RSS, Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi, published a book in 1997, titled Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par (ON THE ROAD TO GREAT GLORY) penned by Sadanand Damodar Sapre, a senior RSS functionary. This book contained details of more than 40 organizations created by the RSS for different tasks but more importantly it described how many of these organizations are run in a clandestine manner for hidden agendas. This publication showed that the whole network ran like a well-organized mafia through its subsidiaries and satellites. There has always been a conscious attempt to create confusion about its different fronts which provide RSS with the opportunity to dissociate with any of these as per its convenience. For instance it used Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) for attacking Christians in late 1990s and when public opinion, media and Parliament seemed to turn against it, RSS denied any relation with HJM. However, according to this publication Hindu Jagaran Manch was created by the RSS as admitted in the above mentioned publication.
From the point of view of Hindu awakening this kind of forums [like Hindu Jagran Manch] at present are active in 17 states with different names like ‘Hindu Manch’ in Delhi, ‘Hindu Munani’ in Tamilnadu, ‘Hinduekjut’ in Maharashtra. These are forums, not associations or organizations, that’s why it is not required to have membership, registration and elections.15 [Emphasis added]
It is clear that such organizations with no record of membership, no registration and no internal elections are created by the RSS. Such an organizational model provides an opportunity to RSS to disown any individual or organization.
True to its nature RSS takes recourse to conspiracies often. It can be known by the following disclosure in Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par about a case in Delhi immediately after partition:
Swayamsevaks had posed to have adopted Musalman [sic] religion in order to gain the confidence of Delhi Muslim League for knowing their conspiracies.16
What these Swayamsevaks, impersonating as Muslims, on the eve of Independence were doing was made clear by none other than Dr. Rajendra Prasad who later became first President of the Indian Republic. In a letter to the first Home Minister of India, Sardar Patel, he wrote on March 14, 1948,
I am told that RSS people have a plan of creating trouble. They have got a number of men dressed as Muslims and looking like Muslims who are to create trouble with the Hindus by attacking them and thus inciting the Hindus. Similarly there will be some Hindus among them who will attack Muslims and thus incite Muslims. The result of this kind of trouble amongst the Hindus and Muslims will be to create a conflagration.17
The following passage from the autobiography of the first Home Secretary of UP, Rajeshwar Dayal, ICS, clearly shows the sinister and criminal designs of the RSS to organize a pogrom of Muslims in the western Uttar Pradesh (the largest province in the Indian Union) and thus break the unity of the country just on the eve of Independence.
I must record an episode of a very grave nature when the procrastination and indecision of the UP Cabinet led to dire consequences. When communal tension was still at fever pitch, the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the Western Range, a very seasoned and capable officer, B. B. L. Jaitley, arrived at my house in great secrecy. He was accompanied by two of his officers who brought with them two large steel trunks securely locked. When the trunks were opened, they revealed incontrovertible evidence of a dastardly conspiracy to create a communal holocaust throughout the Western districts of the province. The trunks were crammed with blueprints of great accuracy and professionalism of every town and village in that vast area, prominently marking out the Muslim localities and habitations. There were also detailed instructions regarding access to the various locations, and other matters which amply revealed the sinister purport.
Greatly alarmed by those revelations, I immediately took the police party to the Premier’s [chief minister’s] house. There, in a closed room, Jaitley gave a full report of his discovery, backed by all the evidence contained in the steel trunks. Timely raids conducted on the premises of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) had brought the massive conspiracy to light. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the Supremo of the organization himself. Both Jaitley and I pressed for the immediate arrest of the prime accused, Shri Golwalkar, who was still in the area.
Pantji [G. B. Pant] could not but accept the evidence of his eyes and ears and expressed deep concern. But instead of agreeing to the immediate arrest of the ringleader as we had hoped, and as Kidwai would have done, he asked for the matter to be placed for consideration by the Cabinet at its next meeting. It was no doubt a matter of political delicacy as the roots of the RSS had gone deep into the body politic. There were also other political compulsions, as RSS sympathizers, both covert and overt, were to be found in the Congress Party itself and even in the Cabinet. It was no secret that the presiding officer of the Upper House, Atma Govind Kher, was himself an adherent and his sons were openly members of the RSS.
At the Cabinet meeting there was the usual procrastination and much irrelevant talk. The fact that the police had unearthed a conspiracy which would have set the whole province in flames and that the officers concerned deserved warm commendation hardly seemed to figure in the discussion. What ultimately emerged was that a letter should be issued to Shri Golwalkar pointing out the contents and nature of the evidence which had been gathered and demanding an explanation thereof. At my insistence, such a letter if it were to be sent, should be issued by the Premier himself to carry greater weight. Panditji asked me to prepare a draft, which I did in imitation of his own characteristic style. The letter was to be delivered forthwith and two police officers were assigned for the purpose.
Golwalkar, however, had been tipped off and he was nowhere to be found in the area. He was tracked down southwards but he managed to elude the couriers in pursuit. This infructuous chase continued from place to place and weeks passed.”
Came January 30, 1948 when the Mahatma, that supreme apostle of peace, fell to a bullet fired by an RSS fanatic. The tragic episode left me sick at heart.18
Rajeshwar Dayal’s shocking narration of Golwalkar’s evil design to cleanse western parts of Uttar Pradesh of all Muslims was further corroborated by another senior RSS pracharak (preacher or whole timer), Krishna Gopal Rastogi in his autobiography, Pracharak Jiwan (Life of Preacher). While describing an incident in which he personally led a mob of armed Hindus against Muslims in Kaliar town situated between Roorkee and Haridwar went on to state without any remorse how he did not spare even a young Muslim girl. According to Rastogi’s heart-chilling version:
It was an old locality inhabited by the Muslims. They, armed with daggers, spears, guns were fully prepared to meet any situation. When I learnt of their intentions to attack some Hindu areas, I organized 250 people including some known gangsters and raided Kaliar. Then a strange thing happened. While we had been killing men in one of the houses, we spotted a very beautiful young girl. The assailants led by me were instantly enamoured. They even started fighting among themselves to take possession of the girl. I faced an extremely awkward situation and did not know what to do. I tried my best to get the assailants to focus on real issues. I abused and threatened them but they would not listen to me. And suddenly the solution came. The girl was after all causing this trouble and had to be eliminated. I took my gun and shot her. She died. My associates were shocked and returned to the work. Though it was against our principle to assault a woman, but it was done in an emergency and I still regret it.19
This autobiography was released with a laudatory preface by K. S. Sudarshan, the then head of the RSS. Incidentally, Rastogi was appointed in two committees of the Human Resource Development Ministry of the Government of India headed by Murli Manohar Joshi despite protests from more than 50 MPs.
The RSS immensely hates all those institutions and objects which symbolize a secular-democratic India. On the eve of independence when Indian Constituent Assembly adopted Tricolour as its National Flag, the English organ of the RSS, Organizer, in its issue dated August 14, 1947, denigrated this choice in the following words:
The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.
The RSS has been demanding since its birth in 1925 that India should have saffron (bhagwa) flag of the Hindu rashtra as the national flag. Golwalkar while addressing a gathering of leading cadres on July 14, 1946 at the RSS headquarters at Nagpur stated that it was,
the saffron flag which in totality represented Bhartiya culture. It was the embodiment of God. We firmly believe that in the end the whole nation will bow before this saffron flag.20
The RSS has another pet-project and that is replacing the Indian Constitution by Manusmriti or Codes of Manu. According to Golwalkar, Uttar Pradesh (the largest province in the Indian Union)
Our Constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various Constitutions of the Western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is? No!21
For RSS there was no ambiguity about this ‘national mission’. It was the enforcement of Manusmriti as the law of the land. The Constituent Assembly of India ratified the Constitution on November 26, 1949 and on November 30, the RSS organ Organizer editorially commented:
But in our constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing.
It is to be noted that Manusmriti is known for its derogatory and inhuman references to Shudras, Untouchables and women. It was for this reason that a copy of Manusmriti was burnt as a protest in the presence of B. R. Ambedkar during historic Mahad agitation.
The RSS, contrary to the principles of democracy, has been constantly demanding that India be ruled under a totalitarian regime. Golwalkar while addressing the 1350 top level cadres of the RSS at its headquarters at Nagpur in 1940 declared,
The RSS inspired by one flag, one leader and one ideology is lighting the flame of Hindutva in each and every corner of this great land.22
This slogan of ‘one flag, one leader and one ideology’ was directly borrowed from the programmes of the Nazi and Fascist parties of Europe.
The extreme hatred expressed against the National Flag, the Constitution and the democratic polity of the nascent nation was clearly aimed at poisoning the minds of common Hindus thus inviting them to overthrow a secular state. It is to be noted that spread of this kind of poison against Gandhi led to his murder by persons who were directly or indirectly related to Hindu Mahasabha & RSS.
The tag of terrorism on RSS is not something new. These were the anti-national activities of the RSS due to which the organization was banned on February 4, 1948. The government communiqué banning the RSS was self-explanatory:
In their resolution of February 2, 1948 the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the RSS.23
The communiqué went on to disclose that the ban on the RSS was imposed because,
“undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the RSS have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military.”24
It is generally believed that the then Home Minister, Sardar Patel, had a soft-corner for the RSS and he continues to be a favourite with the RSS. However even Sardar Patel found it difficult to defend the RSS in the aftermath of Gandhiji’s assassination. In a letter written to Golwalkar, dated 11 September 1948, Sardar Patel stated:
Organizing the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing…Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS…Since then, over six months have elapsed. We had hoped that after this lapse of time, with full and proper consideration the RSS persons would come to the right path. But from the reports that come to me, it is evident that attempts to put fresh life into their same old activities are afoot.25
Hindu Mahasabha and RSS were jointly responsible for the murder of Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, was further corroborated by Sardar Patel in a letter to a prominent leader of Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee. On July 18, 1948. Sardar wrote:
As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in the conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure.26
As per police investigations and press reports the training for terrorist activities to the Hindutva cadres was imparted by military personnel connected with Bhonsala Military School, Nagpur. It may be relevant to note that this military school was the offshoot of Bhonsala Military School, Nasik which was established by Dr Balkrishna Shivramji Moonje (known as Dharamaveer amongst the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha fraternity) with the help of the British rulers for imparting military training to Hindu youth. Dr Moonje formed the Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nasik in 1935 and started the school on 12th June 1937. Interestingly he also idolized militarization of Italian Fascist dictator. Mussolini.
According to its website,
The school started functioning in the Surgana Palace in Nasik city with 90 students on its roll. The Maharaja of erstwhile Gwalior state, His Highness Shriman Jivajirao Scindia27 inaugurated the main building of the school…Such was the charisma, charm and aura of the founder, that he made the then Governor of Bombay State, Sir Roger Lumley to lay the foundation stone of the present main building of the school.
Importantly, this military establishment later supplied Hindu military officers to the British army in its campaign to crush the attempt by Subhashchander Bose led INA to liberate India from the clutches of the British rule in early 1940s. It is very clear that Bhonsala Military School was a collaborative project conceived and executed by RSS-Hindu Mahasabha, the British rulers and their Indian stooges; the rulers of Native India for militarization of Indian society in order to suppress the democratic aspirations of the Indian masses. It is a matter of concern that such sectarian, fascist, communal and pro-British establishments were allowed to exist and function in independent India. The Hindutva terrorism being witnessed today could reach to this dangerous stage because a fascist ideology was able to have at its disposal the lethal military mindset and machinery made available through establishments like Bhonsala Military Schools. The most unfortunate aspect of this developing gory saga is that all this has happened despite India being run under a democratic-secular dispensation. There is no denying the fact that it presents the greatest threat to a democratic Indian polity.
[This text appears as introduction in ‘Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India’ by Subhash Gatade, published by Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd., New Delhi. www.pharosmedia.com]