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Mainstream, Vol XLIX, No 15, April 2, 2011

How the RSS Dreads the Terror Tag

Friday 8 April 2011, by Subhash Gatade

MR BHAGWAT, IT’S TIME FOR AN APOLOGY!

I

Ram Madhav, the bispectacled (ex-) spokes-person of the RSS, is not known for his sense of humour.

It is a different matter that some of the media people just could not control their smiles when sometime back (in the second week of February 2011) at a press conference in the Capital he enlightened the journos about l’affaire Aseemanand and the broader phenomenon of Hindutva terror.

Giving a completely new and almost unforeseen twist to the Aseemanand episode he said that he (that is, Aseemanand) had in fact left the RSS in 2006. Of course, as a good spokesperson—although he has become an ‘ex-’—he had the usual disclaimers in the beginning: the RSS does not believe in violence and is a cultural organisation... One does not know whether, much on the lines of the School Leaving Certificate, with which lesser mortals like us are more familiar with, Ram Madhav distributed photocopies of the ‘Sangh Leaving Certificate’ of Aseemanand or anything similar to give authenticity to his claims or not.

Anyway, the smile shared by the media people was not difficult to comprehend. A few months ago Ram Madhav had uttered similar words about some other RSS Pracharaks in an interview.

That was the time when the law had finally caught up with the real perpetrators behind the Ajmer bomb blast, the Mecca Masjid bomb blast and the terror module comprising of Devender Gupta, Lokesh Sharma, Ramji Kalasangra, Assemanand and others had come to the fore. With RSS Pracharaks and expert bomb-maker Ramji Kalasangra and his associate, Sandeep Dange, still absconding, the CBI had to put a reward on them for their arrest.

In the said interview Ram Madhav told the interviewer that apart from Devender Gupta, the rest of them had left the organisation ‘long time back’. In fact, he had no qualms in declaring that even Sunil Joshi, a senior RSS Pracharak, who is ‘credited’ with being a mastermind of the terror strategy and had been working on it since the late nineties and who was killed by his own men, had also left the RSS ‘sometime back’.

Smiles apart, any close observer of the RSS knows very well that there is nothing new in this practice of ‘disowning’, ‘dumping’ one’s own activists. In fact, down the years the RSS has perfected this strategy. The most famous example of disowning one’s own people happens to be that of Nathuram Godse, the murderer of Mahatma Gandhi. (To know the details of the matter readers can refer to the interview of Gopal Godse in Frontline in the early nineties wherein he had categorically stated that neither Nathuram nor he himself left the RSS at any point of time. When the interviewer specifically asked him why then Nathuram had told the courts that he had left the RSS, Gopal Godse had replied: ‘To save the organisation’.) With no membership list available, it is very easy for the organisation to disown anyone.

Imagine tomorrow the RSS decides to dump some senior leader, what proof anybody is going to have than believing the words of the supremo or any of his representatives that the ‘senior leader had left the organisation sometime back’. With a plethora of affiliated organisations (anushangik sangathan), it is easy for it to shift the blame also.

Undoubtedly, this practice of ‘dumping’ or ‘distancing’ elements who can become a liability must be aimed at saving the skin of the organisation. Of course, even a layperson can see that there is no question of principles involved here. ‘Dump’ or ‘Disown, if inconvenient’ seems to be the reigning Mantra. If the Anti-Terrorist Squad people come calling at Jhadewalan or the RSS headquarters at Nagpur or some regional headquarters of the Sangh, then the Pracharak sitting there can just give a crisp reply to the police that the said person had ‘left the organisation’ long time back or had been ‘expelled from the organisation’.

A caveat is needed here. While dumping/disowning the perpetrator (if they are caught) seems to be the first line of defence adopted by the RSS, it seems to hold good for lower level it points to the existence of a broad network of RSS Pracharaks who not only planned and participated in these terror attacks but also received shelter by sections of the organisation. Naturally the confession put the RSS in a very piquant situation and left it with merely three options:

Firstly, it could have accepted Aseemanand’s confession in toto and could have said that whatever Aseemanand was saying was a correct version of the developments and submited itself before the law of the land much on the lines of Aseemanand. Looking at the nature of the organisation and its exclusivist agenda, this first option was out of question. It could have proved to be a political harakiri for the RSS.

Secondly, it could have claimed that the said confession was a forced one. It did try to work out this option through Aseemanand’s cousel but that did not succeed. The magistrate before whom Aseemanand had given his confession had ensured this aspect.

Thirdly, it could have disowned the person himself which the RSS promptly did.

Ram Madhav’s impromptu-looking statement about Aseemanand is thus part of a well-thought out plan. It reflects one simple thing: With five different agencies—of different States as well as the Centre—in the thick of investigations of the Hindutva terror network, and with new disclosures on the way with recent revelations in the Sunil Joshi murder case, which has even put the MP Government on the defensive, the RSS is very very worried.

III

Dump the Footsoldiers, Hail the Mastermind!

The chargesheet filed by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Rajasthan Police against five accused in the 2007 Ajmer dargah blast case on Friday has named senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar as having provided “guidance” for a conspiracy hatched by radical elements for planting bombs in several cities across the country.

(The Hindu, October 24, 2010)

An unruly mob of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members went on a rampage at Videocon Tower in the city’s Jhandewalan area. The building houses the offices of the TV Today Network and Mail Today. The 3000 strong mob pelted stones, smashed glass doors..

(Mail Today, July 17, 2010)

a victim. But before going into the other details let us first look at two important gaps which Bhaiyaji Joshi has not mentioned.

The first concerns the role of Shyam Apte, a businessman from Pune, in this conspiracy; he has been associated with the RSS for a long time. The tapes with the government tell us about the conversation Purohit, Apte and Dayanand Pandey had about the Mohan Bhagwat-Indresh Kumar duo and the manner in which the conspiracy had been hatched. It may be added here that if Hemant Karkare would have remained alive, Shyam Apte would have been put behind bars for his close relationship with Purohit.

What does one make of the role of Shyam Apte in the conspiracy? Would it be proper to think that he had any personal animosity against the duo and that’s why he wanted to finish them. A natural query would be: why was Shyam Apte’s role not mentioned by the RSS in its letter to the Prime Minister?

Secondly, the number of meetings Lt Col Purohit had with Praveen Togadia, the leader of the VHP, is remarkable. What transpired at these meetings? Mail Today had done a story more than two years ago when the late Hemant Karkare was leading the investigation in the Malegaon blast wherein he had stated that Togadia had tried to win over Purohit by asking him to join him, whereas Purohit had castigated him for his lameduck approach towards the Hindu Rashtra. In fact, Purohit’s e-mail account had four e-mail IDs of Praveen Togadia. Why did all the ‘wise men of RSS’ not mention this fact? Or did they know that like Purohit and Pandey, Togadia too does not have a high opinion of Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar?

Imagine for a moment the conspiracy of the Malegaon bomb blast 2008 involving the likes of Purohit, Pragya and others with a side story or sub-plot of killing Bhagwat and Indresh.

In fact Suresh Joshi should have demanded that since the RSS man, Shyam Apte, was a part of the conspiracy, he should be immediately arrested and since Bhai Togadia was in regular touch with Purohit, he should be immediately called for questioning by the investigating agencies.

What does the plot to kill Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar—that also involves senior leaders of the RSS like Shyam Apte—tell us? It goes to show that there are ruptures in the RSS never even been called for questioning despite enough evidence implicating him in financing Hindutva terror modules or addressing meetings of youth espousing them to take up retaliatory strikes. In fact this single move on behalf of the Sangh Parivar has exposed it to further questioning and clarifications.

Today it might be finding it politically expedient to distance itself from the Hindutva terrorists, Lt Col Purohit and Shankaracharya Dayanand Pandey, but is it ready to answer a simple query: why did merely two years and few months back the RSS and its affiliated organisations go all-out to support these terrorists and the terror module with which they were associated? We should never forget that much on the lines of Maliq Qadri, the terrorist from Pakistan who was greeted with rose petals in the Islamabad court, the Malegaon bombers comprising Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya, Dayanand Pandey and others were also showered with rose petals at the behest of the RSS and other Hindutva organisations when they were produced in Nashik and Pune courts.

Is it not time that Suresh Joshi, Mohan Bhagwat and other ‘wise men at the top’ write another letter addressed to the people of India seeking their apology for their shameful support to these terrorists sometime back? History bears witness to the fact that when the then Maharashtra ATS chief, late Hemant Karkare, was unearthing the Hindutva terror network spread over India when he took up the Malegaon 2008 bomb blast case, forces like the Shiv Sena and RSS with a plethora of affiliated organisations of the latter were in the forefront to stigmatise him, spreading all sorts of canards against him and even calling him a traitor. L.K. Advani, the then Prime Minister-in-waiting, had even raised the issue in Parliament.

As an aside it may be mentioned here that the letter by Suresh Joshi to the Prime Minister nowhere expresses regret over the killings of innocents by the Hindutva terrorists. At least one had expected that the Sarkaryavah would ‘own up’ the crimes of Pracharak Terrorist Devender Gupta, one of the executioners of the Ajmer bomb blast and Mecca Masjid blast (whom he had himself acknowledged as a fanatic, and had said that ‘henceforth we will see to it that none from our ranks becomes another Devender Gupta’). Also there is no word of remorse for the deeds of those who were trained in the RSS shakhas (if they were officially with the RSS or not is another debatable issue) whether they were Sunil Joshi, Ramji Kalasangra, Sandeep Dange, Aseemanand and others.

Coming back to the Purohit, Pandey episode, one is reminded of a Marathi proverb which says that ‘a cat drinks milk with its eyes closed and thinks the world is not watching’. The behaviour of the RSS has a lot of similarities with the ‘cat’ in the proverb. The world has watched them praising, euologising and supporting the Malegaon bombers—mirror images of Malik Qadris in this part of the earth. Today when investigating agencies have found enough leads to nab some of their own top leaders for their role in promoting terror attacks, they want us to believe the new wisdom which has dawned upon them.

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