Sunday, August 1, 2010

RSS: Culture Of Hate

Interview with
D.R. Goyal, author of an authoritative narrative of RSS history


In an interview to R.S.Goyal the author of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh elaborates on how the Hindutva hand in the Ajmer, Hyderabad and Malegaon blasts is nothing new and explains how Hindutva as a political ideology breeds terror.

The investigations in the Ajmer, Hyderabad and Malegaon blast cases point towards the involvement of Hindu fundamentalists. Over the past five years, we have heard a lot about fundamentalist Hindu organisations plotting bomb blasts in Muslim areas across the country. This kind of secret plotting seems to be a new development in India। What could be its political repercussions?

First of all, bomb-making and such other acts are not a new thing for these organisations. For example, in 1947, Mr L.K. Advani, then an RSS swayamsewak and not a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, ran away from Karachi because in his house bombs were being made to kill Mr Jinnah. Many of his associates were arrested and punished. He was able to get out. Now he says that he came by plane to Gujarat after the incident. But in his first biography by Atma Ram, it was said that he took a boat from Karachi to Gujarat and then could go to Rajasthan and other places in India.

It is not only bombs. Terrorism can take many forms. What happened in Gujarat in 2002? Is it not terrorism? See Kandhamal। Are they not terrorising Muslims and Christians? I would say that it is not Hindu terrorism, as most of the media have coined it, but it is Hindutva terrorism, which is political in nature.

Do you recollect any other instances in history where the RSS and other such Hindu organisations engaged with such forms of terrorism?

Many such instances can be noted. What was Madanlal Pahwa doing when he threw a bomb at Mahatma Gandhi? Was he not inspired by the RSS? After that, Nathuram Godse fired at Mahatma Gandhi and killed him. The RSS tried to wriggle out of the matter by trying to dissociate itself from Godse. But later, Frontline quoted Godse's brother as saying that they were all members of the RSS family. All the brothers, not only one. So, it is not a question of something new happening. They say that they are trying to be friendly with Muslims. The fact is that they can never do that ideologically. M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS' most important ideologue, in his book We or Our Nationhood Defined says the minorities in this country should be treated as Hitler treated Jews in Germany। So the Muslims and Christians should be treated the same way.

The RSS and other Hindutva organisations have started attacking media offices. For instance, the Headlines Today office was attacked in Delhi and Zee 24 was attacked in Mumbai। We saw the same kind of attack last year at the CNN-IBN office.

This, too, is nothing new. In pre-Independence days, they were against publishing any news about the RSS. Even if some newspaper published a report of Golwalkar arriving somewhere, it was attacked. Journalists were attacked for publishing news about the RSS. It is true that until 1947 there was hardly any news published about the activities of the RSS, which means that they were trying to work secretly. Secret work is always the mark of terrorists. They started open work only after 1947. The scheme was to set up a political front. Various issues of the RSS mouthpiece Organiser in the late 1940s clearly show a debate within the RSS whether to enter politics or not. The argument in favour of setting up a political party was that when the RSS was banned, there were no political voices to condemn the ban and defend it. It was with this objective that they formed the Jan Sangh. But it was not a regular party with a constitution, a concrete political programme, and a foreign policy stand. The Jan Sangh's only programme was to defend the RSS. And then they started taking up the issues of Akhand Bharat and abolition of Article 370. It was Atal Bihari Vajpayee who first stated that history could not be changed and Pakistan would have to be accepted as a nation state. Before that, they [Hindutva leaders] did not even accept Pakistan as an independent state. They wanted to have Pakistan just as Pakistan wanted to have Kashmir. But the BJP still publicly states that it draws its inspiration from the RSS.

I would say that their attitude towards social life is the same as that of the Taliban – those who are not Hindus have to be punished। Either you convert to Hinduism or you will be punished.

What explains the time gap of such terrorist action by the RSS and its sister groups? All the examples you gave were pre-Independence and the recent terrorist acts are not more than five years old.

In between, they were actively involved in engineering riots. If you look at the pattern of the Sangh Parivar-led riots, detailed planning and execution were involved. Babri Masjid demolition means for them a statement that unless they get back all the temples destroyed in history, they will demolish all the mosques. What does it mean? The RSS is creating an atmosphere where fear prevails and other people are expected to act out of fear through riots and carnage like in Kandhamal. See what is happening in Karnataka. The RSS, as an organisation, has not been properly understood both by our state and by our people.

The RSS, in rhetoric at least, has dissociated itself from organisations like Sanatan Sanstha, Abhinav Bharat or Sri Ram Sene, which have been linked to bomb blasts and rioting.

The RSS has always said that it is a social and cultural organisation and not a political one and that it does only social work. But the question to ask is: When did it start saying this? Only after it was banned. Golwalkar and Savarkar were arrested for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and were released only on the grounds that the prosecution could not produce enough witnesses. Some of the witnesses ran away. If Godse's brother is to be believed, all of them were RSS workers. Then it was the teachings of the RSS that prompted Nathuram to kill Gandhi. Madanlal Pahwa could also be cited as a case in point. It was banned because Sardar Patel himself wrote in a letter to [Jawaharlal] Nehru that saving Hindus was one thing but creating an atmosphere [of hatred] against Muslims was wrong. He also wrote that the worst thing the RSS did was to create an atmosphere that led to Gandhi being assassinated.

To get the ban withdrawn, the RSS submitted a constitution to the Home Ministry saying that it accepted the national flag and the Indian Constitution. Until 1949, the RSS had no constitution. The organisation had operated for almost a quarter of a century without a constitution. It was a secret organisation.

According to their constitution, they had to keep a record of its members. They have no such record as yet. Their constitution is not even known to many members. In 1967, there was a court question to the RSS about its finances and whether it paid taxes. The RSS replied that its work was akin to politics and it was not liable to pay taxes. Their accounts are all secret. When I was in the RSS, no one except Golwalkar was allowed to write anything. My fault was that I wrote three letters to a senior person in the RSS asking the organisation to help Hindus when the famine had broken out. This was criticised. My habit of reading was also severely discouraged. I was then asked to come to the central office where I saw all kinds of corruption. Money laundering was very much there. All these organisations are Hindutva carriers and members of the RSS. Dissociating itself from these organisations, therefore, would hardly prove the RSS' innocence. For instance, in 1969, riots broke out in Ahmedabad. There was a separate organisation called “Support for Hindus” to lead the riot. Similarly, when there were riots in Jalgaon and Bhiwandi, a similar organisation was set up. However, if you look at their composition, all the members were also members of the RSS. The parent organisation of such groups that engineer such riots is always the RSS.

In the teachings and writings of the RSS, do you see enough instigation for militant action?

The RSS was formed at the request of Savarkar, who had written the book Hindutva। But because Savarkar was not able to function openly owing to his house arrest, he asked K.B. Hedgewar to start a youth organisation as an affiliate to the Hindu Mahasabha to propagate Hindutva politics. It is well known that until 1937, the RSS was a volunteer organisation under the Hindu Mahasabha. But after Golwalkar lost an election for the post of secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, he severed all relations with the Hindu Mahasabha. Golwalkar wrote We or Our Nationhood Defined and Bunch of Thoughts.

In Bunch of Thoughts, he clearly identifies three enemies – Muslims, Christians, and Communists. If you have defined enemies, it is assumed that you have to fight and kill them. He also wrote that sacrificing your life is not heroism but success is. He wrote about “parakramavada” (aggressive bravery). You have to be aggressive and win to become heroic.

When I was an RSS member as a child, I was very averse to bloodshed. They used to teach us how to kill pigeons as if we should start with pigeons, and then graduate later to killing bigger mortals.

In recent times, the appointment of Nitin Gadkari as president of the BJP is being seen as the RSS asserting its control over its political front again.

The job of the Jan Sangh was to defend the RSS. Power was never its objective. It so happened that in 1977 it was able to collaborate with other political parties. They [Hindutva forces] started getting into power. Then, in 1998, they got power at the Centre. When this happened, their old leaders Vajpayee and Advani started to see RSS chiefs and leaders as their juniors. As long as Golwalkar was alive and until Balasaheb Deoras was there in the RSS, these two leaders of the BJP revered them and were also afraid of them. After Golwalkar and Deoras, they felt that they were senior to the RSS chief. This led to some differences between the RSS and the BJP. Former RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan even went ahead to say that these two should take retirement. After Vajpayee became too ill to be politically active and the BJP lost the last parliamentary elections under Advani's leadership, the RSS used it to its advantage to impose its own man, Gadkari, on the BJP.

Factionalism, however, has grown in the RSS. Mohan Bhagwat is seen as a junior person. Students who go to colleges and schools prefer to go to Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad [student wing of the BJP] rather than an RSS shakha.

Could you tell us more about the process of indoctrination in the RSS?

The speech made by the RSS chief at the annual Dasara function in Nagpur is circulated to all the shakhas and the members are made to hear it many times. If you compare what Nitin Gadkari is talking about and what Bhagwat spoke of in the last meeting, they are similar. He talked about China, Maoists, failure in security arrangements – the same thing. They say that not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims.

What, according to you, will be the political repercussion of such a militant trend in the RSS and other Hindutva groups?

When they came to power at the Centre, they gave up the demands of a Ram temple [at the Babri Masjid site] and abolition of Article 370. Then a person like Kalyan Singh also declared that they were cowards. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad [VHP] refused to invite Advani to a function in Haridwar, complaining that he did not push the Ram temple issue. Both the RSS and the VHP are trying to revive the issue in another name, “Hanuman Jagaran”, but the BJP is reluctant. The VHP is planning to hold a meeting of sadhus and sants in Ayodhya to revive that. They may not be able to do that, but they are trying.

How do you differentiate between Hindutva terrorism and Islamist terrorism?

Terrorism always starts when a community identifies itself as a nation. The same is the case with the Taliban in Pakistan. The militant ideology of the majority section of population, however, is more vicious in nature. In Ludhiana, I remember a Muslim leader called Ludhianvi who was close to Nehru. When there were riots in Ludhiana, he sheltered many Muslims at his house.

Muslims thought since their leader was there, there was no need for them to leave their original homes. The RSS realised this, and every night fire torches and stones were thrown at his house. Subsequently, Nehru requested him to leave Ludhiana and come to Delhi. Now, there is hardly any Muslim population in Ludhiana.

Islamist terrorism, as I see in India, was not organised until recently. They were mostly reactions. You could see individual reactions from goondas like Dawood Ibrahim who held the torch of the Muslim cause. It was because Muslims were marginalised and discriminated against, the cause of which could be attributed to organisations like the RSS.

From 1950 onwards, a trend started wherein a riot results in polarisation and consolidation of Hindu votes in favour of the Jan Sangh and later the BJP. The inquiry commissions set up after every riot failed to point out that a particular organisation was behind it. Whenever the Sangh Parivar combine finds itself in a politically weak position, it does such things. See how the BJP, pushed to a corner in politics, is once again trying to revive the Hindutva debate through such terrorist acts. Hindutva forces have always used terrorism to their political advantage and not because they suffer socially and economically like the Muslims in India.

Courtesy Frontline, 31 July 2010


an shibli said...

after reading this interview of DR Goyal one can easily understand that what is the hidden agenda of RSS. The actual terrorist are those who belongs RSS. In India they are working only on sole agenda to terrorize minority.

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