Would it be possible to imagine that leader of any organisation openly declaring that her/his people/activists have the ability to prepare an “army” in three days , can be deployed on the front within three days, questions the ability of the security forces for quick operations, and does not face any legal hassles ?
A lesser mortal would have been definitely hauled up for such ”ánti-national” act by now
Well, when it comes to the ‘Pitrusangathan‘ – as the RSS is called in the larger Parivar – and its numero uno Mohan Bhagwat things move bit differently. Forget any hassles what one witnessed is unbelievable. A minister of the government rushed to Bhagwat’s defence (http://indianexpress.com/article/india/kiren-rijiju-defends-mohan-bhagwat-trinamool-congress-calls-him-minister-of-sangh-5061058/) when RSS’s supremos speech in Muzaffarpur, Bihar caused uproar in the country.
An apology from the RSS Supremo was demanded for ‘disrespecting the army and our martyrs’ and adding “an insult to every Indian,…” ( Rahul Gandhi) or transgressing ‘constitutional propriety'( Vijayan, Kerala CM), or ‘lowering the morale of the force. (Mayawati) etc…
The clarification of sorts provided by the Akhil Bharatiya Prachaar Pramukh of the RSS, Manmohan Vaidya, about this controversial statement added further insult to injury :
“..[B]hagwat ji had said that if a situation arises and the Constitution permits, Indian Army would take six months to prepare society, whereas swayamsevaks can be trained in three days as swayamsevaks practise discipline regularly. ..”
What Anand Sharma, spokesperson of the Congress said was more scathing. Demanding Bhagwat’s apology and a response from PM on this remarks, it said how the statement itself and the clarification provided smacked of a dangerous mindset.
“What the RSS chief has said is deeply disturbing and unacceptable. It amounts to insulting the Indian Army. Mohan Bhagwat’s statement about mobilising RSS supporters like an Army also means he talking about RSS running a private militia. We have already seen the dangerous consequences of such private militia in Afghanistan, in the form of IS in Syria and in many African countries such as Angola. We will not allow such a design in India,”
A moot question arises : Whether RSS Supremo would have a change of heart and would seek apology for his ‘misrepresented’ statement or issue clarification .
Looking at the intrasigence shown by the ruling dispensation on various occasions – where it has rather perfected the art of not saying sorry – it would be daydreaming to think that the RSS Supremo, formally head of the ‘largest cultural organisation in the world’, would express regrets. Anyone who entertains any doubt about this can have a look at the regular consultations between the ‘Pitrusangathan’ and various stakeholders in the government (e.g. http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/boundaries-between-rss-bjp-dissolve/141962.html) or the fluidity of the boundaries between RSS and BJP, where Pracharaks metamorphose overnight into leaders of BJP and are easily accepted.
While debate would continue around the ‘ínsult’ heaped by the RSS Supremo on the army, one was bit surprised over the candidness with which Mohan Bhagwat spoke , frankly admitting what goes on within this ‘biggest cultural organisation in the world’.
In fact there are rare occasions when you get to hear such clear cut statements from people associated with it. e.g. Not very many people would remember today that when involvement of Hindutva fanatics in terror acts had made headlines, and RSS had found itself on the defensive, Mohan Bhagwat had made this significant statement talking to RSS members in Surat
..of the majority of the people whom the government hasaccused (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...
(‘No place for radicals in RSS, says Bhagwat’, The Indian Express, Delhi, 11-01-2011, p. 3 quoted in https://www.countercurrents.org/shamsul200113.pdf)
A combination of strict discipline, military type of training and action against the óther’ pervades the broad universe of Hindutva organisations.
Critics and opponents of this exclusivist project have been underlining it since quite some time.
Commissions appointed by governments to look into riots in post-independence India have been consistent in underlying the alleged role of the local level cadres of the Hindutva Brigade.
Scholars of communal conflicts who have observed /studied Hindu-Muslim riots in post-Independent India have talked about emergence of “institutionalised riot systems” in which the organizations of militant Hindu nationalism are deeply implicated. (http://www.paulbrass.comthe_production_of_hindu_muslim_violence_in_contemporary_india_16681.htm)
e.g. The demolition of Babri Mosque by hordes of Hindutva Supremacist forces – which recently completed twenty five years – was also a very organised affair – which was cloaked under ‘spontaniety of the masses’ by interested quarters. e.g. The video magazine ‘Newstrack’had then sent a team of reporters on the infamous day.
The recordings captured Hindu leaders, including .., exhorting the crowd that the masjid must be destroyed and a temple built. ..
Rehearsals of demolition teams practising with ropes, pick-axes and boulders were recorded by Newstrack. The images included Bajrang Dal leader .. in khaki shorts ‘directing’ with a whistle…
The idea of discipline and penchant for military type action is even visible in co-travellers on the Hindutva path. Remember what Justice Srikrishna commission – which was formed to look into Mumbai riots in Dec 1992 and Jan 2013 – had said about Bal Thackeray. It had unambiguously stated that Thackeray “like a veteran general commanded his loyal Shiv Sainiks to retaliate with organised attacks against Muslims”. (https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/cover-story/story/19980817-srikrishna-panel-report-indicts-shiv-sena-chief-bal-thackeray-for-role-in-1993-mumbai-riots-826921-1998-08-17).
Interestingly relative newcomers on this path – who want to turn India into Hindu Rashtra – seem more explicit. Organisations like Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janjagruti Samity (SS and HJS) – where destruction of evildoers’ is an integral part of ‘spiritual practice’ and where this‘destruction’ is to be done at ‘physical and psychological level’, seekers ( called ‘Sadhaks) are also provided with training in arms – rifles, trishuls, lathis and other weapons’ to facilitate this ‘Dharm Kranti’ (religious revolution) . (http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/history-background-of-sanatan-sansthas-war-on-evildoers/) A very important text in the training of the seekers/ Sadhaksis ‘Texts on Defence’ where seekers of divine kingdom are also imparted training with air rifles ( Vol 3 H – Self Defence Training, Chapter 6, Page 108-109) ( For further details see : https://kafila.online/2008/07/03/spiritual-as-communal/)
Could it be said that Bhagwat’s claim was ‘a slip of toungue’ or was an empty boast made to boost the morale of its cadres or he was serious about it.
While one can debate the timing of the statement, but nobody can say that he did not mean what he said or is ignorant of what he meant.
Reports galore where affiliated organisations of RSS – namely Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini – are seen imparting training supposedly for self defence which also involves rifle training ( https://www.newsgram.com/durga-vahini-a-self-defense-program-for-hindu-women-in-india ; https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/j-k-girls-turn-up-in-huge-numbers-at-durga-vahini-training-camp-for-self-defence-exercise-325387.html).
But what has largely gone unnoticed is the establishment of a proper military school by Dr B S Munje, mentor of Dr Hedgewar and one of the founders of RSS.( Apart from Dr Hedgewar, and Dr B S Munje, Dr L V Paranjpe, Dr B B Thalkar and Baburao Savarkar – V.D. Savarkar’s brother were present at the inaugural meeting of RSS on Vijaya Dashmi – Ref : Page 16, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags, Tapan Basu, Pradip Datta, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Sambuddha Sen) which completed eighty years last year.
This military school had come under scanner when investigations started to unearth the sprawling network of Hinduva terror when it was discovered that premises of this school were used for holding military style training camps for band of fanatics. Reports had appeared in a section of the press that ‘[t]here are leads of some Hindu leaders from Bangladesh having attended the training camps held at the Bhonsala Military School, “(outlook 23 Nov 2008).
In one of the first exhaustive writeup ““Hindutva’s foreign tie-up in the 1930s: Archival evidence” in Economic & Political Weekly, January 22, 2000 Marzia Casolari ( http://www.epw.in/journal/2000/04/special-articles/hindutvas-foreign-tie-1930s.html) had provided details of Dr Munje’s tour of Italy, his meeting with Mussolini and his impressions of The Balilla institutions an idea conceived by Mussolini for the ‘military regeneration of Italy’ and his resolve to to develop similar institution with ”our institution Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh”
India and particularly Hindu India need some such institution for the military regeneration of the Hindus: so that the artificial distinction so much emphasised by the British of martial and non-martial classes amongst the Hindus may disappear. Our institution of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh of Nagpur under Dr Hedgewar is of this kind, though quite independently conceived. I will spend the rest of my life in developing and extending this Institution of Dr Hedgewar all throughout the Maharashtra and other province
( From Munje Diary, http://www.frontline.in/cover-story/moonje-mussolini/article6756630.ece)
After returning to India Moonje formed the Central Hindu Military Education Society at Nasik in 1935 and started the school on 12th June 1937. If one refers to the official website of the School one discovers that
“…[T]he school started functioning in the Surgana Palace in Nasik city with 90 students on its roll. The Maharaja of erstwhile Gwalior state, H H Shriman Jivajirao Scindia inaugurated the main building of the school. In his inaugural speech, He said, “It is not a mere coincidence that within a short period of the opening of a first rate public school in India (he was referring to the Doon School, Dehradun), we are here today to open a first rate Military School.”
It is aimed
“..to bring about military regeneration of the Hindus and to fit Hindu youths for undertaking the entire responsibility for the defence of their motherland. … to educate them in the ‘Sanatan Dharma’, and to train them “in the science and art of personal and national defence” (‘Central Hindu Military Education Society,’ NMML, Munje Papers, subject files, n 24, 1932-36)
As rightly noted by Prof Shamsul Islam ( https://www.countercurrents.org/shamsul200113.pdf) it provided “Hindu military officers to the British Army in its campaign to crush the attempt by Subhash Chandra Bose led INA to liberate India” and it was thus a “colloborative project between the British rulers and their Indian stooges” which was executed by these Hindutva organisations’.
The school celebrated platinum jubilee of its founding in 2012 and Mohan Bhagwat was invited as a Chief Guest for the function. In his long speech he had made two significant points : One, “..[E]xpressing concern over the dominance of ‘rich and powerful people’ in politics, besides the soaring inflation rate, he said that India’s situation was better during the British rule”” Two, he …”laid stress on the need for imparting military education to students, citing rising threat to the nation”
Subhash Gatade is the author of Pahad Se Uncha Aadmi (2010) Godse’s Children: Hindutva Terror in India,(2011) and The Saffron Condition: The Politics of Repression and Exclusion in Neoliberal India(2011). He is also the Convener of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) Email : firstname.lastname@example.org