On 15 December 2021, I continued my “HSS is RSS” tour by speaking in respectful rebuke at the Roseville, CA City Council meeting for their recent platforming and honoring of a local branch of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the international wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

This speech marked my fourth city council appearance in three states in two months. Previously, I spoke at Troy City Council and Canton Township Board of Trustees meetings in Michigan as well as an Irving City Council meeting in Texas. In California, the Roseville City Council had, on 17 November, passed a proclamation applauding the HSS’s celebration of Diwali and honored the group (many of whom appeared within the council chambers dressed in their official HSS uniform) with a formal presentation.

While acknowledging Roseville City Council’s “innocent ignorance” of the HSS’s ties to the RSS, I pointed out that the group is committed to “serving as an international support base and propaganda mouthpiece for the RSS’s fascist agenda.” I further explained that choosing the occasion of Diwali to honor the HSS is “as an insult not only to the countless victims of the RSS but also as an insult to the vast diversity and traditional pluralism of the Hindu religion itself.”

Following are my remarks in full:

Almost 75 years ago, in January 1947, several members of the radical Hindu nationalist RSS paramilitary who had just emigrated out of India gathered to form the international wing of that paramilitary — the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh or HSS.

Meanwhile, back in the Indian subcontinent, on the eve of India’s independence, the paramilitary gathered in the northern region of Jammu and Kashmir to stage its first large-scale massacre of minorities. Accounts, shrouded in the fog of conflict, vary, but historians estimate that the RSS and its collaborators slaughtered anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000 Muslims.

A few months later, in January 1948, India had just gained its independence when an RSS member assassinated Gandhi specifically because he hated himfor supposedly being too peaceful towards Indian Muslims.

Gandhi’s assassination by an RSS member led to the first of three bans on the RSS.

Meanwhile, outside India, the RSS’s international wing — the HSS — flourished and expanded around the globe, setting down roots far and wide, including here in the US. And, eventually, even here in California. Even here in the City of Roseville.

Last month, the City of Roseville — no doubt in innocent ignorance of the group’s ties to its parent organization, the violent RSS paramilitary — welcomed the HSS into these very chambers to honor them with a formal proclamation.

Meanwhile, back in India, the RSS — despite constantly and violently putting into practice its belief that Christians and Muslims, especially, are “foreign elements” and “traitors” to the nation who must be cleansed from the land — has gained such strength and power that it now controls the country. With total impunity, it is, at this very moment, routinely flooding the streets with mobs who attack religious minorities to spread intolerance and hatred in its pursuit of the victory of evil over good.

That the City of Roseville, albeit unwittingly, chose Diwali — the Hindu Festival of Lights which celebrates tolerance, compassion, and the victory of good over evil — as the occasion to honor the international wing of the most xenophobic and genocidal organization in India serves, unintentionally but tragically, as an insult not only to the countless victims of the RSS but also as an insult to the vast diversity and traditional pluralism of the Hindu religion itself.

Since, as Hinduism beautifully teaches, “the whole world is one family,” we must realize that it is ultimately self-destructive to platform the HSS here in America even while the RSS is ripping our family apart back in India through acts of terror which are enabled and empowered by the HSS’s commitment to serving as an international support base and propaganda mouthpiece for the RSS’s fascist agenda.

Thank you.

Pieter Friedrich is a freelance journalist specializing in analysis of South Asian affairs. He is the author of Sikh Caucus: Siege in Delhi, Surrender in Washington and Saffron Fascists: India’s Hindu Nationalist Rulers as well as co-author of Captivating the Simple-Hearted: A Struggle for Human Dignity in the Indian Subcontinent. Discover more by him at PieterFriedrich.net.


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