//Nailing the RSS

Nailing the RSS

Inside information by former RSS swayamsewak proves that the organisation was directly complicit in planning one of the most heinous assassinations in human history


D R Goyal Delhi


That the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is a past-master at lying brazenly to defend its conspiratorial past has been proved by its repeated denial of any association or responsibility for the crime of having supported, in either form or intent, the killing of Mahatma Gandhi. Its good fortune — and the nation's misfortune — is that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an RSS affiliate, is suffering from such amnesia, or complacency, that when the issue is even lightly touched on by one of its senior leaders, the bulk of the party prefers to dissociate itself from the issue, thus allowing the outfit to mislead the public by loud protestations and by threatening to file a defamation suit.


I am not sure that this is not an empty threat — there is so much evidence that proves that Nathuram Godse was actively associated with the organisation and was inspired to do the dirty deed by the ideology that gave birth to the RSS. The organisation's lies have been nailed by no less a person than Nathuram's own brother, Gopal Godse.


In an interview to Frontline magazine (January 28, 1994), he said, "All the brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us. Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah (intellectual teacher) in the RSS. He had said in his statement that he had left RSS. He said this because Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS."


When confronted with Advani's claim that Nathuram had nothing to do with RSS, he replied that he had countered Advani by saying, "It is cowardice to say that. You can say that RSS did not pass a resolution saying 'go and assassinate Gandhi'."


Apart from denying his association with Nathuram, the outfit has been using the time-tested technique of all liars. Selective quotations from the correspondence of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel are cited to suggest that the then home minister did not believe that the RSS had committed the crime. Patel's letter had been addressed to Nehru in February 1948. But in a letter to RSS founder, Dr Shyamaprasad Mookerjee, written in July that year, when more facts were probably unearthed, he squarely blamed the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, saying, "As…the case relating to Gandhiji's murder is sub judice I would not like to say anything about the participation of these two organisations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly by the former (ie, RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible."


He went on to write, "The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the Government and the state."


Neither this letter nor one from Patel to Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar himself, in which the ban on the RSS was justified, is talked about. Golwalkar was told that the speeches of the RSS men "were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji." In the same letter, Patel pointed out that popular opposition to the RSS turned serious "when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji's death".


Rather than being penitent, asserting that it was not the RSS but Nathuram, on his own, who had fired the shots, is like saying that it wasn't Nathuram but a pistol that had killed Gandhi. After all, the man who risks his life to take somebody else's is motivated by ideas; in this case, Nathuram had imbibed them from the RSS. Nathuram was the instrument of that ideology, just as the pistol was Nathuram's instrument. It should, therefore, be examined whether RSS training could have inspired his intense hatred against Gandhi.


Godse's strongest claim to innocence is based on the court judgment, which had held only Godse guilty and not any organisation. That was because the Indian Penal Code then in force had no provision for proceeding against organisations spreading hatred. The lacuna was removed in 1972 through an amendment. Therefore, a court judgement based on the old IPC should not be treated as a valid alibi.


Vinayak Damodar "Veer" Savarkar had been arrested and punished not because he had killed Curzon Wylie, but because he had incited and inspired the killer, Madan Lal Dhingra. British law did not suffer from the handicap that the IPC did, particularly because there was enough evidence.


In this regard, I find my own experience significant. I had become an RSS activist as a teenager way back in 1940–41 as a reaction to the Muslim League's Pakistan resolution. The Congress had no children's wing and for the nascent political consciousness of a teenager, the RSS provided the only expression.


The intellectual food that I had got till 1948 was such that I was averse to seeing Gandhi's face. I was then working in a Hindi daily, Milap, and was assigned the duty to report Gandhi's speeches at the prayer meetings. Instead of going to Birla House, I would report his speech with the aid of the radio broadcast. The only day I decided to go to a prayer meeting was the day Madan Lal Pahwa hurled a bomb, which missed its target. I had gone because the RSS crowd was circulating the news that something of high importance was expected to occur.


A similar motivation impelled me to proceed in that direction on January 30, but before I could enter Birla House, I found people running and screaming that Gandhi had been killed. I ran back and entered the bungalow of Dr N B Khare, the prime minister of Alwar state who was then a member of the Constituent Assembly: I was aware of his sympathies for the RSS.


My experience is corroborated by the experience of another disillusioned swayamsewak who had written a letter to Sardar Patel after the assassination and which has been referred to by Gandhiji's private secretary Pyarelal in his book, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, and quoted by Justice J L Kapoor, who reviewed the case in 1966. In that letter, the swayamsewak had asked "members of the RSS at some places to tune in the radio sets on the fateful Friday for the 'good news'."


Pyarelal has also mentioned an aborted attempt at assassination by these people in Poona in order to punish Gandhi for his campaign against untouchability. He said, "Their plans this time were far more systematic and thorough and included such refinements as conditioning the mind of youth for their prospective task by making them wear, as part of their training, photos of Congress leaders like Pandit Nehru and others, besides Gandhiji, inside their shoes, and using the same for target practice with fire-arms etc."


What kind of intellectual diet were the swayamsewaks fed? It is there in Bunch of Thoughts, a compilation of Golwalkar's ruminations, officially published in 1966. To give a comprehensive idea, one has to quote at length, especially to avoid being accused of the selectivity which the RSS itself indulges in. Accusing the Gandhi-Nehru leadership of "Muslim appeasement" in order to achieve Hindu–Muslim unity, he says, "The Hindu was asked to ignore, even submit meekly to the vandalism and atrocities of Muslims. In effect, he was told: Forget all that the Muslims have done in the past and all that they are now doing to you. If your worshipping in the temple, your taking out gods in procession in the streets irritates the Muslims don't do it. If they carry away your wives and daughters, let them. Do not obstruct them.


"Once a notable Hindu personality of those days, in a largely attended public meeting, declared: 'There is no swaraj without Hindu–Muslim unity…In other words, the Hindu was told that he was imbecile, that he had no spirit, no stamina to stand on his own legs and fight for the independence of his motherland and all this had to be injected into him in the form of Muslim blood. What a shame, what a misfortune that our own leaders should have come forward to knock out the indomitable faith in ourselves and destroy our spirit of self-confidence and self-reliance, which is the very life-breath of a people! Those who declared 'No swaraj without Hindu–Muslim unity' have thus perpetrated the greatest treason to our society. They have committed the most heinous crime of killing the life-spirit of a great nation."