8.Role of RSS in killing Gandhi – and its continuing support for his killing (and wish that Nehru had been killed, as well)
8.1Godse’s brother clearly identifies RSS
I’ve already covered this earlier, but noting again, here:
8.2Sardar Patel notes that RSS distributed sweets upon Gandhi’s assassination
“The speeches of the Sangh leaders are poisonous. It is as a result of this venom that Mahatma Gandhi has been assassinated. The followers of the Sangh have celebrated Gandhiji’s assassination by distributing sweets.” [Cited separately in this booklet]
8.3RSS leader supports Gandhi killing
Article in RSS magazine suggests Nathuram Godse should have killed Jawaharlal Nehru instead of Mahatma Gandhi
RSS once again showing its true colours as a HARDCORE VIOLENT organisation. Amazing gall. Instead of condemning Godse for killing the greatest man of peace India has ever produced, this BJP/RSS man wanted Godse to kill Nehru, instead. This is the level of thinking of this vicious group of anti-Indian people. (Addendum 25 October 2014)
8.4Widespread awareness of RSS’s complicity
1. All India Christian Council article [This seems to be not working now]
2. “the anti-Mahasabha/RSS backlash in New Delhi following Gandhi’s murder by an RSS maverick, Nathuram Godse, in January 1948. As details of the ethnic cleansing programme in Mewat began to filter through to Delhi, the Nehru government grew by stages alarmed, angry and ashamed. These recriminations were further fuelled by rumours and circumstantial evidence that Khare and possibly the two maharajas had given shelter to Godse and his fellow conspirators as they travelled north on their mission to murder the Mahatma” … “The inquiry did, however, make clear that Godse had plenty of supporters in both Alwar and Bharatpur. After Gandhi’s death the RSS was declared an unlawful organization.”[Ian Copland, ‘The Further Shores of Partition: Ethnic Cleansing in Rajasthan 1947’, Past and Present, No. 160 (Aug., 1998), pp. 203-239]
3. “Gopal Godse lives in a tiny, two-room apartment in Pune… Gopal Godse served 18 years in prison for his role in Gandhi’s murder. Today at 83, he is the last surviving member of the group that planned it. …
Mr. GOPAL GODSE (Gandhi Assassin): We assassinated him because in our view he was harmful to the nation. In India, we at least desired it should be a Hindu state where openly the government will have one faith and that is Hindu faith. And that was not done. In that case, we say, Gandhi was a traitor. …
SULLIVAN: …Nathuram Godse and another plotter, Norayan Apte, were hanged for the crime in 1949. Both Godse and his brother were members of the RSS, a militaristic Hindu organization influenced by German Fascism in the 1930s. Hindu nationalist groups like the RSS were briefly banned following Gandhi’s assassination. .. Many of its members would agree with Gopal Godse that India makes far too many concessions to its Muslim minority at the price of the majority Hindu population.” [Profile: Last surviving conspirator in the plot to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi.(1:00-2:00 PM)(Broadcast transcript). Weekend Edition Saturday (July 12, 2003)(736 words) ]
9.Role in post-indepedence communal riots
“the RSS branch in Delhi has sold 5 million postcards and envelopes showing India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all under a saffron flag” [Sucheta Mazumdar, Women on the March: Right-Wing Mobilization in Contemporary India,Feminist Review, No. 49, Feminist Politics: Colonial/Postcolonial Worlds (Spring, 1995), pp. 1-28]
See: Liberal Party of India: Communalism of the Congress and BJP | BJP are not true Hindus – provides links to many articles which talk of the role of RSS in fanning communalism in India, and actively participating in communal riots, e.g.http://www.liberalpartyofindia.sabhlokcity.com/communal/riots.html
9.2.2Raghubir Dayal Commission of enquiry and the Madan Commission
“The Raghubir Dayal Commission of enquiry and the Madan Commission criticized political parties for exploiting communal feeling and ministers for interfering with local administration or making statements which undermined the efforts of the government.3 6 The Aligarh riots are replete with instances of RSS and police collaboration aided by certain ministers in the UP government. The UP government could not prevent the recurrence of riots in Aligarh because it lacked the requisite political will to take action against erring officials and politicians who were respon- sible for the communal violence.” [Zoya Khaliq Hasan, ‘Communalism and Communal Violence in India’, Social Scientist, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Feb., 1982), pp. 25-39]
9.3.1Aligarh riots, Tellicherry riots
“There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the RSS has consistently played a role in organizing and inciting communal violence. In Aligarh, for instance, there was unconcealed cooperation between the RSS, the police and the local and district admini- stration. Navman, who had close links with the RSS and was reported to have engineered the riots, secured passes and transport to facilitate the movement of prospective rioters. Navman was arrested and released later at the behest of the Chief Minister. The role of communal organizations in fomenting communal trouble has been established by various commissions of enquiry. For instance, the report of enquiry into Tellicherry disturbances (1971) found that communal cordiality was broken only when RSS entered district politics by setting up their units. The strident anti-Muslim propaganda threw the Muslims into the lap of communal organizations which prepared the ground for the communal conflicts” [Zoya Khaliq Hasan, ‘Communalism and Communal Violence in India’, Social Scientist, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Feb., 1982), pp. 25-39]
“in celebration of Anant Chaturdashi (a festival dedicated to the reawakening of Lord Vishnu after his annual sleep during the monsoon months), was taken out by Hindus and routed through several predominantly Muslim neighborhoods in the city. This procession, which involved some 10,000 participants and witnesses, was organized (as it traditionally has been) by many of the city’s akhadas (gymnasia for wrestling and other martial arts involving weapons) (Rajasthan Patrika 1989a). Because of their emphasis on physical training and self-discipline many members of these akhadas in recent years had affiliated themselves with the RSS. Eyewitnesses record that anti-Muslim slogans, such as “Hindustan mein rahna hai to Hindu bankar rahna hoga” [If you want to live in India you have to live like Hindus] and “Babar ki santanun ko Hindustan mem nahim rehne denge” [We will not let the progeny of Babar live in India], were raised as the procession passed through Muslim areas (Engineer 1989:2704).” [Norbert Peabody,’Inchoate in Kota? Contesting Authority Through a North Indian Pageant-Play, American Ethnologist, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Aug., 1997), pp. 559-584]
“RSS and VHP men roamed through the town spreading rumors that Muslims in Bartaan were raping, kidnapping, and murdering Hindu women.” [Amrita Basu, Why Local Riots Are Not Simply Local: Collective Violence and the State in Bijnor, India 1988-1993, Theory and Society, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Feb., 1995), pp. 35-78]
“The biggest danger to the BJP-led government continues to be from members of the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (RSS) family (the Sangh Parivar), who are likely to continue to test the limits of governance. Attacks on Christians in Gujarat and the murder of an Australian missionary in Orissa, as well as attempts to shape specific aspects of the education curricula, exemplify the dangers posed by BJP family members.” [Devesh Kapur. ‘India in 1999’, Asian Survey, Vol. 40, No. 1, A Survey of Asia in 1999 (Jan. - Feb., 2000), pp. 195-207 ]
“Oct. 2, 2008–BHUBANESWAR — Kandhamal police have finally arrested 35 people for instigating communal clashes in the district. Of them, there are activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
The attack in Rudangia area on Tuesday, where a woman was hacked to death and 12 injured, triggered the police action. Kandhamal district police chief Praveen Kumar told HT: “We have made 35 arrests in the last 24 hours. Indefinite curfew was imposed in nine places.”
Though Kumar did not comment on the affiliations of those arrested, sources said there was sufficient evidence to prove that some of them are from the RSS and VHP.”[RSS, VHP men among 35 held in Kandhamal, Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India) (Oct 2, 2008)]
“Jan 24, 2007 Malappuram: For the fourth day yesterday tension gripped this town and its environs in Malappuram district following a fresh attack carried out by suspected activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, seriously injuring a man named Kunjhali, police sources said.
An uneasy calm had been prevailing in the district since the killing of an RSS volunteer, Ravi, here on January 20. The same night, another RSS man received injuries in an attack allegedly carried out by a six-member gang, suspected to be workers of a Muslim outfit, National Development Front (NDF).
Following the incidents, the RSS, the militant wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), had called for a shutdown in the district on Sunday and some of its activists allegedly waylaid a passer-by belonging to the minority community and attacked him. “ [Malappuram district tense after fresh attack by RSS, Gulf News (Jan 24, 2007)]
9.3.7Orissa: Hindtuva’s violent history by Angana Chatterji
HINDUTVA'S PRODUCTION of culture and nation is often marked by savagery. On 23 August 2008, Lakshmanananda Saraswati, Orissa's Hindu nationalist icon, was murdered with four disciples in Jalespeta in Kandhamal district. State authorities alleged the attackers to be Maoists (and a group has subsequently claimed the murder). But the Sangh Parviar held the Christian community responsible, even though there is no evidence or history to suggest the armed mobilisation of Christian groups in Orissa.
After the murder, the All India Christian Council stated: “The Christian community in India abhors violence, condemns all acts of terrorism, and opposes groups of people taking the law into their own hands”. Gouri Prasad Rath, General Secretary, VHPOrissa, stated: “Christians have killed Swamiji. We will give a befitting reply. We would be forced to opt for violent protests if action is not taken against the killers”.
Following which, violence engulfed the district. Churches and Christian houses razed to the ground, frightened Christians hiding in the jungles or in relief camps. Officials record the death toll at 13, local leaders at 20, while the Asian Centre for Human Rights noted 50.
The Sangh’s history in postcolonial Orissa is long and violent. Virulent Hindutva campaigns against minority groups reverberated in Rourkela in 1964, Cuttack in 1968 and 1992, Bhadrak in 1986 and 1991, Soro in 1991. The Kandhamal riots were not unforeseen.
Since 2000, the Sangh has been strengthened by the Bharatiya Janata Party's coalition government with the Biju Janata Dal. In October 2002, a Shiv Sena unit in Balasore district declared the formation of the first Hindu ‘suicide squad’. In March 2006, Rath stated that the “VHP believes that the security measures initiated by the Government [for protection of Hindus] are not adequate and hence Hindu society has taken the responsibility for it.”
The VHP has 1,25,000 primary workers in Orissa. The RSS operates 6,000 shakhas with a 1,50,000 plus cadre. The Bajrang Dal has 50,000 activists working in 200 akharas. BJP workers number above 4,50,000. BJP Mohila Morcha, Durga Vahini (7,000 outfits in 117 sites), and Rashtriya Sevika Samiti (80 centres) are three major Sangh women's organisations. BJP Yuva Morcha, Youth Wing, Adivasi Morcha and Mohila Morcha have a prominent base. Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh manages 171 trade unions with a cadre of 1,82,000. The 30,000-strong Bharatiya Kisan Sangh functions in 100 blocks. The Sangh also operates various trusts and branches of national and international institutions to aid fundraising, including Friends of Tribal Society, Samarpan Charitable Trust, Sookruti, Yasodha Sadan, and Odisha International Centre. Sectarian development and education are carried out by Ekal Vidyalayas, Vanavasi Kalyan Ashrams/Parishads (VKAs), Vivekananda Kendras, Shiksha Vikas Samitis and Sewa Bharatis — cementing the brickwork for hate and civil polarisation.
This massive mobilisation has erupted in ugly incidents against both Christians and Muslims. In 1998, 5,000 Sangh activists allegedly attacked the Christian dominated Ramgiri-Udaygiri villages in Gajapati district, setting fire to 92 homes, a church, police station, and several government vehicles. Earlier, Sangh activists allegedly entered the local jail forcibly and burned two Christian prisoners to death. In 1999, Graham Staines, 58, an Australian missionary and his 10- and six-year-old sons were torched in Manoharpur village in Keonjhar. A Catholic nun, Jacqueline Mary was gangraped by men in Mayurbhanj and Arul Das, a Catholic priest, was murdered in Jamabani, Mayurbhanj, followed by the destruction of churches in Kandhamal. In 2002, the VHP converted 5,000 people to Hinduism. In 2003, the VKA organised a 15,000- member rally in Bhubaneswar, propagating that Adivasi (and Dalit) converts to Christianity be denied affirmative action. In 2004, seven women and a male pastor were forcibly tonsured in Kilipal, Jagatsinghpur district, and a social and economic boycott was imposed against them. A Catholic church was vandalised and the community targeted in Raikia.
Change the cast, the story is still the same. 1998: A truck transporting cattle owned by a Muslim was looted and burned, the driver’s aide beaten to death in Keonjhar district. 1999: Shiekh Rehman, a Muslim clothes merchant, was mutilated and burned to death in a public execution at the weekly market in Mayurbhanj. 2001: In Pitaipura village, Jagatsinghpur, Hindu communalists attempted to orchestrate a land-grab connected to a Muslim graveyard. On November 20, 2001, around 3,000 Hindu activists from nearby villages rioted. Muslim houses were torched, Muslim women were ill-treated, their property, including goats and other animals, stolen. 2005: In Kendrapara, a contractor was shot on Govari Embankment Road, supposedly by members of a Muslim gang. Sangh groups claimed the shooting was part of a gang war associated with Islamic extremism and called for a 12hour bandh. Hindu organisations are alleged to have looted and set Muslim shops on fire.
It is Saraswati who pioneered the Hinduisation of Kandhamal since 1969. Activists targeted Adivasis, Dalits, Christians and Muslims through socio-economic boycotts and forced conversions (named ‘re’conversion, presupposing Adivasis and Dalits as ‘originally’ Hindus).
Kandhamal first witnessed Hindutva violence in 1986. The VKAs, instated in 1987, worked to Hinduise Kondh and Kui Adivasis and polarise relations between them and Pana Dalit Christians. Kandhamal remains socio-economically vulnerable, a large percentage of its population living in poverty. Approximately 90 percent of Dalits are landless. A majority of Christians are landless or marginal landholders. Hindutva ideologues say Dalits have acquired economic benefits, augmented by Christianisation. This is not borne out in reality.
In October 2005, converting 200 Bonda Adivasi Christians to Hinduism in Malkangiri, Saraswati said: “How will we… make India a completely Hindu country? The feeling of Hindutva should come within the hearts and minds of all the people.” In April 2006, celebrating RSS architect Golwalkar’s centenary, Saraswati presided over seven yagnas attended by 30,000 Adivasis. In September 2007, supporting the VHP’s statewide road-rail blockade against the supposed destruction of the mythic ‘Ram Setu’, Saraswati conducted a Ram Dhanu Rath Yatra to mobilise Adivasis.
In 2008, Hindutva discourse named Christians as ‘conversion terrorists’. But the number of such conversions is highly inflated. They claim there are rampant and forced conversions in Phulbani-Kandhamal. But the Christian population in Kandhamal is 1,17,950 while Hindus number 5,27,757. Orissa Christians numbered 8,97,861 in the 2001 census — only 2.4 percent of the state’s population. Yet, Christian conversions are storied as debilitating to the majority status of Hindus while Muslims are seen as ‘infiltrating’ from Bangladesh, dislocating the ‘Oriya (and Indian) nation’.
The right to religious conversion is constitutionally authorised. Historically, conversions from Hinduism to Christianity or Islam have been a way to escape caste oppression and social stigma for Adivasis and Dalits. In February 2006, the VHP called for a law banning (non- Hindu) religious conversions. In June 2008, it urged that religious conversion be decreed a 'heinous crime' across India.
‘Reconversion’ strategies of the Sangh appear to be shifting in Orissa. The Sangh reportedly proposed to 'reconvert' 10,000 Christians in 2007. But fewer public conversion ceremonies were held in 2007 than in 2004- 2006. Converting politicised Adivasi and Dalit Christians to Hinduism is proving difficult. The Sangh has instead increased its emphasis on the Hinduisation of Adivasis through their participation in Hindu rituals, which, in effect, ‘convert’ Adivasis by assuming that they are Hindu.
The draconian Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA), 1967, must be repealed. There are enough provisions under the Indian Penal Code to prevent and prohibit conversions under duress. But consenting converts to Christianity are repeatedly charged under OFRA, while Hindutva perpetrators of forcible conversions are not. The Sangh contends that 'reconversion' to Hinduism through its ‘Ghar Vapasi’ (homecoming) campaign is not conversion but return to Hinduism, the ‘original’ faith. This allows them to dispense with the procedures under OFRA.
The Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, 1960 should also be repealed. It is utilised to target livelihood practices of economically disenfranchised groups, Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, who engage in cattle trade and cow slaughter.
In fact, a CBI investigation into the activities of the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal is crucial as per the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967. Groups such as the VHP and VKA are registered as cultural and charitable organisations but their work is political in nature. They should be audited and recognised as political organisations, and their charitable status and privileges reviewed.
The state and central government's refusal to restrain Hindu militias evidences their linkage with Hindutva (BJP), soft Hindutva (Congress), and the capitulation of civil society to Hindu majoritarianism. How would the nation have reacted if groups with affiliation other than than militant Hinduism executed riot after riot: Calcutta 1946, Kota 1953, Rourkela 1964, Ranchi 1967, Ahmedabad 1969, Bhiwandi 1970, Aligarh 1978, Jamshedpur 1979, Moradabad 1980, Meerut 1982, Hyderabad 1983, Assam 1983, Delhi 1984, Bhagalpur 1989, Bhadrak 1991, Ayodhya 1992, Mumbai 1992, Gujarat 2002, Marad 2003, Jammu 2008?
The BJD-BJP government has repeatedly failed to honour the constitutional mandate separating religion from state. In 2005-06, Advocate Mihir Desai and I convened the Indian People's Tribunal on Communalism in Orissa, led by Retired Kerala Chief Justice KK Usha. The Tribunal’s findings detailed the formidable mobilisation by majoritarian communalist organisations, including in Kandhamal, and the Sangh's visible presence in 25 of 30 districts. The report did not invoke any response from the state or central government.
In January 2000, The Asian Age reported: “‘One village, one shakha’ is the new slogan of the RSS as it aims to saffronise the entire Gujarat state by 2005.” Then ensued the genocide of March 2002. In 2003, Subash Chouhan, then Bajrang Dal state convener, stated: “Orissa is the second Hindu Rajya (to Gujarat).”
We all know what has happened in Kandhamal December 2007, and again now. The communal situation in Orissa is dire. State and civil society resistance to Hindutva’s ritual and catalytic abuse cannot wait.
The writer is associate professor of anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies and author of a forthcoming book:
Violent Gods: Hindu Nationalism in India's Present, Narratives from Orissa
From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 5, Issue 36, Dated Sept 13, 2008
Hindutva then and now: 'Violent Gods: Hindu nationalism in India's present' by Angana Chatterji and 'Savarkar and Hindutva' January 2010
If the metamorphosis of Mohandas Gandhi’s Gujarat into a Hindutva laboratory was baffling to social scientists, Orissa’s recent emergence as another communal hotspot has been no less surprising. Over the course of August and September 2008, following the murder by Maoists of Laxmananda Saraswati, a sadhu closely associated with the Hindutva brigade, the state witnessed large-scale communal violence against the Christian community in and around Kandhamal District. This onslaught was actually a continuation of disturbances that took place in Kandhamal in December 2007, when Christians were likewise subjected to indiscriminate violence – churches burned, houses destroyed, women brutalised and innocent people killed – even as the administration turned a blind eye.
The ‘transformation’ of Orissa into another Hindutva lab is the central focus of Angana Chatterji’s book, Violent Gods: Hindu nationalism in India’s present. An assistant professor of cultural anthropology in California, Chatterji says her work was prompted by the Gujarat genocide of 2002, with her first visit to Orissa being a sequel to her Gujarat trip. There, she learned how the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had galvanised its forces to replicate the “successful Gujarat experiment”. This initial exposure to the unfolding situation led the author to enter into a different kind of engagement in Orissa. She returned numerous times, meeting people from across the ideological spectrum, visiting victims of sectarian and communal violence, interacting with NGOs and social-action groups, and even involving herself in convening the Orissa People’s Tribunal on Communalism.
Of particular importance in Chatterji’s work is the impressive number of interviews she conducted during the course of her fieldwork, allowing her to get to know a broad spectrum of voices, including revisiting victims of violence. For example, the author made several visits to the village of Kilipal, where in February 2004 seven Dalit Christian women and a male pastor were tonsured (had their hair stripped from their scalps) by upper-caste and Hindu-identified Dalit neighbours. Chatterji’s first visit was in August, six months after the incident, and she returned four times over the following three years. By allowing the victims to speak over the course of these recurring visits, Chatterji hopes to break “the silence imposed by social disgrace, and enables action, legal and political”.
Violent Gods is thus an outcome of a process of interaction and reflection by a researcher who willingly slips into the role of an activist. Through her research, which is extensively reliant on oral historiography, Chatterji discusses the period between 1999 and October 2008. She begins with the horrific incident of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary working with the leprosy-afflicted in Orissa, who was burned alive with his two children by a mob led by Dara Singh, a Bajrang Dal activist. Plotting the trajectory of the state’s Hindutva forces (which are generally seen to have entered Orissa with the launching of a branch of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1940), Chatterji emphasises that the key to Hindu cultural dominance is the ascendance of an aggressive Brahminism, which legitimises certain forms of violence against the Shudras and Ati-Shudras. In this vein, the author describes the two aspects of the Hindu-majoritarian strategy to produce cohesion in Oriya society: ethnic cleansing and Hindutva education.
The book also provides details of the plethora of organisations built by the Sangh Parivar to reach a broad cross-section of people and to facilitate greater acceptance of its ideology. For instance, in the aftermath of the devastating 1999 cyclone in Orissa, which left some 10,000 dead, the Sangh organisations used relief work to spread its network. According the Sangh’s own records, its members could access more than 10,000 villages, thus allowing the vastly increased penetration of Hindutva ideology.
9.3.9Ajmer blast case
The Rajasthan government has said says there is strong evidence against senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar in the Ajmer blast case.
Rajasthan Anti-Terror Squad had named Indresh Kumar in its chargesheet on the 2007 blast, setting off a political uproar with the RSS and the BJP accusing the government of playing politics in the name of saffron terror.
But the state Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal has said there is strong evidence against Kumar and he will be questioned soon.
The chargesheet says Indresh Kumar presided over a secret meeting held in Jaipur in which all the key conspirators behind the Ajmer Blast had participated. [Source]