It is important to know how deadly the nature of RSS is. It is also important to understand the theory of the RSS’s Hindutva project and the reality of its implementation on ground. ‘Amraa EK Sacheton Proyas’ (We — A Conscious Effort) — a study group on Conflict and Coexistence, has been working for more than a decade to find out, understand and unveil the nature of this political religious project of RSS-BJP. Visiting the RSS headquarter at Nagpur, and this report, is just a part of that effort. In part 1 of this report there is a brief description of the origin and spread of the Sangh and its ideology, to give a context to the visit, the subsequent experience during the visit will comprise part two of the report.
Visiting the RSS headquarters — A report by Aamra
In the history of India, RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is one of the pioneers of divisive politics. And at the same time the bearer and carrier of the two-nation theory. Keshab Baliram Hedgewar, a follower of Savarkar, was the founder of RSS. Like Jinnah, Savarkar too believed in the doctrine that Hindus and Muslims are two separate jatis (race/nationalities). Although they agreed on two-nation theory, they disagreed on how the two races should exist. Jinnah wanted a separate nation state Pakistan for Muslims and Hindustan for Hindus. Savarkar’s wish was that India cannot be divided. But in independent India, the Hindu race will be in power, the Muslims will be under it, cooperating with the Hindus. (Pakistan or the Partition of India, BR Ambedkar). The idea of an undivided India and a Hindu Rashtra (State) of the RSS revolves around that theory.
Keshab Baliram Hedgewar
If anyone’s life has started with extreme Muslim-hatred, then it is Keshab Baliram Hedgewar. founder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the main goal of the organization being to make India a fully Hindu Rashtra.
Throughout his life, various manifestations of this hatred toward the Muslims can be observed. Some of them are mentioned here. In this context, we weren’t surprised to see a picture (details will be given in part 2) conserved in the museum named after him, as no picture of Hedgewar himself ‘lynching’ or instigating others to lynch is available, so it may probably have been painted by someone, as this ‘great’ act (lynch) inspires Hindutva volunteers! We were surprised by its public display. Needless to say, our ‘entry’ into the museum was not ‘approved’ by them. Our ‘strategy’ gave us this unwelcome opportunity.
Let’s take a look at some of Hedgewar’s exploits, which are based mainly on his many biographies. World War I has just begun. After meeting Lokmanya Tilak in Pune, Hedgewar went to Shivneri, notably, Shivaji had spent his childhood there. He saw a mosque and a dargah near Shivaji’s birthplace. What did he think of this? As we learn from Hedgewar’s biography ‘Hedgewar Jiban Charit’ (page- 71), written by Narayan Hari Palkar, ‘he was very pained to see this inconsistent scene. Thereafter, whenever Shivneri was mentioned, that pain would stir his mind anew ‘.
It was September 1920. Dr Munje and Hedgewar travelled by train to Pondicherry to meet Sage Arobinda. Although the two were on the same train, the compartments were different. Dr Munje was in first class, Hedgewar in third. Occasionally Hedgewar would come to Munj’s compartment, but once the train left and he could not return to his own compartment. The ticket checker came and Hedgewar got into trouble. An argument broke out between the two. Seeing Dr Munj’s high-necked black hat and long beard, the ticket checker thought he was a Muslim and said, ‘Don’t be angry at me. Remember this is not a Muslim country’. Dr Munje and Hedgewar were very happy to hear of this extreme aggressive remark of the ticket checker. From the above biography, we quote their outburst of elation at that incident.
‘They felt a kind of contentment. At that time it was common knowledge that everyone living in Hindustan owned this country. But during a conflict, the patriotism of the Hindu mind is awakened, and that this country is only for the Hindus, this fearless historical truth comes to the fore, seeing that before their own eyes, their hearts were overjoyed. Later on to instigate the ‘patriotism’ of the Hindus, Hedgewar used to mention this incident many times’.
In 1910 there was a riot in Calcutta. Headgear was then in Calcutta to study medicine (LMS) at the National Medical College in Calcutta. College students had formed a medical team to stand by the riot victims. Hedgewar was in this team. Once this medical team members were taking an unconscious man to a hospital, when suddenly a Hindu man stabbed a Pathan (Muslim) in his back, in front of them. One of the nurses became anxious for natural reasons, saying, “he needs treatment right now.” But Hedgewar intervened, saying, “If any of us take him for treatment, the police will arrest us, because we are all Hindus.” Despite being a medical student, extreme Muslim hatred prevented him from serving a wounded man. He also deterred others by invoking false fears in them.
Muslims mean thugs, Hindu-Muslim riots do not happen, riots are one-sided, that is, Muslims starts the riot – this was his attitude. If anyone ever said in front of him, ‘Hindu-Muslim riots have taken place in such and such a place’, Hedgewar would immediately stop him and say, ‘Say it is Muslim-riots that will be the right description’.
Hatred and riots: Another name for RSS
It was with this extreme Muslim-hatred of its founder that the RSS was born with. Let’s look back a little. Mutual understanding and coexistence, developed over centuries between Hindus and Muslims, had been declining throughout the country. Hindu-Muslim riots were taking place in different cities of India. There were 11 riots in 1923, 18 in 1924, 16 in 1925 and 35 in 1926. Maybe this information is neither complete nor neutral. That being said, the most number of riots occurred in Bengal, Punjab and the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh). The Lahore riots, in 1928, were the deadliest, with maximum casualties. (Pakistan – The Heart of Asia, Liaquat Ali).
In 1923 there was a riot in Nagpur. The Hindu Mahasabha took out a procession in front of a mosque, playing loud music. When the Muslims protested, riots broke out. (Gandhi in His Time and Hours, David Hardyman). It was 1925. In the immediate aftermath of the Nagpur riots, Hedgewar formed the RSS. Apart from the above reasons, there were disputes between Hindus and Muslims in Nagpur for various reasons. The passing of procession in front of the mosque was one of them. In 1924 Muslims were also financially boycotted. An inquiry committee comprising Motilal Nehru, Dr Mahmood and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was formed at the initiative of the Congress to resolve the dispute. This committee in its report made the following observation:
Any procession of the Bhonsle family and from the Jagobar can pass through the front of the mosque at any time. Apart from these, other processions will be able to pass playing music in front of the five main mosques of the city at any time of the day apart from half an hour in the afternoon and evening during prayers in the mosques.
To maintain coexistence and peace this decision was accepted by most people from both the communities, but Hedgewar didn’t like it. He did not agree to Hindus being asked to stop playing music even during the time of Azan. In his words, “Whenever Muslims say ‘stop playing music’ in front of mosques, turn it more and more loud.” He instructed Swayamsevaks (the volunteers) to participate in these processions.
The RSS began to spread in Nagpur with its strong anti-Muslim attitude. With the rise of Hindu domination, the Muslims were gradually subdued. The Swayamsevaks were deployed not only in the processions but also at public places where the Muslims used to visit, such as Friday-Talab or Tulsibagh.
The Sangh stressed on Hindu unity to make the common Hindus of Nagpur anti-Muslim. It soon became clear that this Hindu unity was in fact nothing but to create different projects for Muslim-opposition. In the words of Hedgewar, ‘It is necessary to develop an attitude in the minds of Hindus that instead of “I”, he thinks “we are’ thirty-five crores”. From the history of the Sangh it is clear that their project of ‘hate and hatred’ started from Nagpur. We know, Ganesh festival is one of the big festivals in Maharashtra. Tilak converted the Ganesh festival into a tool of ‘political religion’. It can be said that this played an important role in building Hindu nationalism in India.
Rakesh Sinha, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member, is one of Hedgewar’s many biographers. He said, ‘Hedgewar formed the RSS to unite the Hindus. He wanted to free the Hindus from the restrictions imposed on them by the long British-Mughal rule and give them a place to practice their culture. The oath of the RSS also mentions the freedom of the Hindus from the hands of the British imperialists.
Another biographer of Hedgewar, CP Visikar, in his book, Keshab Sanghnirmata, has shown how the founder of the RSS had compared Muslims to venomous snakes.
Once, the Ganesh festival and a Muslim procession in Nagpur fell on the same date. The procession of the Muslims was on September 4, 1926, in memory of Syed Mir, who had died three years ago, on that day. On the other hand, Mahalakshi is a special day, a special occasion, in the Ganesh festival of Maharashtra. As the procession by the Muslims was on the same day, there was an immense possibility of violence. Nagpur has already witnessed violent communal riots many times. Weapons were stockpiled at several violence prone places at the behest of the RSS.]
Nagpur riots (1926), and the spread of RSS
It is worth noting that the Sangh, which started its journey in 1925, from Mohit’s palace in Nagpur, has within two years spread remarkably by 1927. Individual groups were formed according to age. Boys under the age of ten were organised in groups such as ‘Lav’ and ‘Chiliya’. Youngsters and teenage boys are placed in the groups called ‘Kush’, ‘Dhruv’ and ‘Prahlad’. The ‘Bhim’ group was for adults and the ‘Bhishma’ group comprised of the elderly. Camps were held in different parts of the city by the Sangh. In these camps, regular practice and drill sessions with sticks by 60-70 youths, would excite the passer by. Needless to say, among the public, Muslims were more excited and provoked by these public drills.
Emphasis was laid on the word ‘strike’. In the words of Anna Sohoni, an office bearer of the Sangh in its early days, “the strike should have such vigor and speed that the enemy standing in front fell to the ground immediately after being struck.” Needless to say, he himself used to participate in such ‘strikes’. Along with physical exercise, Sangh volunteers were given books to read for brainwashing. Two confiscated books, ‘Hindutva’ and ‘Khatre Ki Ghanti’ were on the list. The two books were also distributed among ordinary Hindus to attract them towards Sangh.
Let’s say a few words about Anna Sohoni in the context of this discussion. This person was a riot monger. He had turned his home into an arms factory for the purpose of training the Sanghis. According to Sangh sources, tiger-nails, knives, spears, swords etc. were produced and gathered there. On Hedgewar’s birthday, Sohoni had gifted him a knife. Since it was gifted openly, Hedgewar alerted him and said, “what has been told to do shall be done, but there is no need to brag about it.”
On 4 September, Hedgewar was not present in Nagpur. The Muslims had no idea that there could be any attack on them from the Hindus. Hedgewar’s departure from Nagpur was pre-planned and intentional to further confuse the Muslims. He left Nagpur after drawing out a blueprint of the plan, so that the Hindus can win ‘victory’ in the riots. As per his instructions, swayamsevaks led by Anna Sohoni started gathering behind the ruins of Mohit’s palace from 11 am. Anna divided them into 16 groups. Armed swayamsevaks are deployed in all the alleys and streets from Dr Munj’s house to the palace. In all, about 125 youths, all armed, were on the wait. (Biography of Dr. Hedgewar, Narayan Hari Palkar).
The biography of Hedgewar, by Narayan Hari Palakar, is a valuable book for swayamsevaks. In the second edition of the book (pp. 159-161) the description of the Hindus tale of bravery during the riots is described as follows:
They (swayamsevaks) were determined to defend themselves. They relied on their own strength and manliness. The muscles of their forearms became tense in excitement. Shortly afterwards, the procession (of Muslims), cursing and beating people, left the main road and entered the Waikar alley. But the swayamsevaks, who were secretly standing on one side of the alley with sticks, started striking them as soon as the thugs (Muslims) entered the narrow alley. The Muslims, their heads smashed, turned back and started fleeing.
… Clashes continued throughout the city on Sunday, but the Hindus were in dominance.
…. For three or four days, the unity and awareness shown by the Hindus, forgetting the artificial divisions of caste, creed, profession, etc., caused the Muslims to lose soil from under their feet, and they had to take their wives, sons and daughters to safety at the fort of Gond Raja, under the umbrella of protection by government soldiers. Hundreds of Muslims had to suffer the consequences of their sins lying in hospitals. About ten or fifteen of them left this world forever and went to perform hizrat. Among the Hindus, four or five gained martyrdom. During this conflict, the dominance of Hindus was established in Nagpur.
… At every crossroads of Nagpur, the flashes of the soldiers’ bayonet could now be seen. If the army had not come, the condition of the defeated Muslims would have been far worse as a result of the treatment meted to them by the Hindus.
Mahadev Sadashiv Golwalkar
It is pertinent to mention that after Keshab Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940), Mahadev Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906-1973) became the RSS chief. And his contribution to the spread of RSS is considerable. In his book ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’ published in 1939, he presented a clear stand on Hindu nationalism. It can be said that it is one of the most important books of RSS’s Hindutva. Many horrible things are written in this book about non-Hindus.
“The non-Hindu people of Hindustan must either adopt Hindu culture and language, learn to respect and worship Hindu religion, and reject any idea other than promoting the greatness of Hindu race and culture. That is, they must not only abandon the attitude of intolerance and ingratitude towards this country and its age-old heritage, but instead adopt a positive attitude of love and reverence towards it.”
Yes, these words (and attitude) exemplifies the ‘thoughts’ of the founders of the organisation, which started its journey with the riots in Nagpur, and the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, its political face, is following the same ideology today. Following the same trend is the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, who rose to power following the ‘genocide’ of Muslims in Gujarat, and the ‘Mob lynching’, ‘Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019’, ‘Inauguration of Ram Temple’ etc. are tools to spread further his appeal.
So it is important to know how deadly RSS is. It is important to understand the theory of Hindutva and the mechanisms of its implementation, how the plans and projects of Hindutva terrorism are embedded within its core ideology. The RSS continues to inaugurate more new camps in villages along the Jharkhand border in West Bengal. Through various folk-culture organizations, they are trying to mix toxic Hindutva ideas with the traditional Sahajiya folk culture. ‘We, A Conscious Effort’ (Aamra— a study group on Conflict and Coexistence) has been investigating such phenomenon for more than a decade to find out and understand all this and unveil the nature of the political-religion project of RSS. Going to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur was just one part of that process.
(To be continued)
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