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March 05, 2006
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March 05, 2006

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Home > 2006 Issues > March 05, 2006

Salutations to Guruji Golwalkar?III
Guruji and the ban

By V. Sundaram, IAS (Retd.)

?Where injustice becomes greater than we are

Where injustice becomes swifter than we are

Where injustice becomes stronger than we are

Help us not to tire?

Shri Guruji, a man of indomitable courage and invincible faith, categorically told Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel that he would not be cowed down by their intimidation or threats. Enraged by the firm stand of Shri Guruji, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel, the close political followers of Mahatma Gandhi, who fought with the weapons of non-violence and truth all his life, strangely decided to let loose the forces of state violence and Congress-orchestrated untruth against Shri Guruji and the RSS.

On November 2, 1948 Shri Guruji called a press conference in New Delhi and distributed two lengthy statements refuting every single charge against the Sangh. He made it clear in his statement that he would not be lured by the offer of Pt. Nehru or Sardar Patel to join the Congress party. Government of India reacted by issuing a threat to Shri Guruji that unless he returned to Nagpur immediately, he would be arrested. It became clear to Shri Guruji that a national Satyagraha by the Swayamsevaks all over India was the only solution open and that was the only way of making the Government of India under

Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel see reason. On the night of November 13, 1948, Shri Guruji was arrested under the notorious Bengal State Prisoner?s Act of 1818 and sent to prison. This very Act had been strongly condemned by Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel before Independence as a ?black law?. That ?black law? suddenly became ?white? under the inspiring(!) leadership of Pandit Nehru in post-Independent India.

Shri Guruji sent a letter to the Swayamsevaks soon after his arrest, in which he wrote: ?This state of affairs is humiliating. To continue to submit meekly to this atrocious tyranny is an insult to the honour of citizens of free Bharat and a blow to the prestige of our civilised free State. I therefore request you to stand up for our great cause. Truth and justice are with us. Let the skies reverberate with the call ?Victory to Bharat? and rest not till the goal is reached. Bharat Mata ki Jai!? The whole nation was electrified by the resounding message of Shri Guruji. Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel wrongly calculated that Shri Guruji and the Sangh could be intimidated into total silence.

Pt. Nehru particularly was of the view that any Satyagraha consisting of inexperienced youths launched by Shri Guruji would peter out in a few days. Nor did he or Patel expect the number of Satyagrahis to cross a few thousands. This wrong perception was made clear by Pt. Nehru at a public meeting at Jaipur in the first week of November 1948 when he said: ?This is a duragraha of the urchins of the Sangh. The government will use all its might to crush this agitation.? In this context it will not be out of place to mention that Nehru spoke almost the same language against the Government of China when he was in Ceylon on the first day of the Chinese invasion in October 1962: ?We will throw out the Chinese.? The harsh and bitter truth is that by the time he returned to New Delhi, Chinese had overrun the greater portion of Arunachal Pradesh and were on their way to Guwahati.

Guruji Golwalkar - (1906-1973), a fierce revolutionary

In a public meeting in Gwalior on December 5, 1948, Sardar Patel said: ?Some people say the Sangh is going to start a Satyagraha. But these people can never conduct a Satyagraha, their Satyagraha can never succeed, because their minds are unclean. We had advised them to ?join the Congress? and had tried to bring about a change of heart among them, but they have chosen the path of confrontation. I warn them, we are ready to face such challenges.?

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the great Russian poet, had double-dealing men like Pt. Nehru in view when he came out with the following lines of poetry:

On the night of November 13, 1948, Shri Guruji was arrested under the notorious Bengal State Prisoner?s Act of 1818 and sent to prison. This very Act had been strongly condemned by Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel before Independence as a ?black law?.

?Nero, apparently thought
he was a poet.
Hitler thought that he would
redeem the world from woe!
The man thinks: ?I am so
The shallow man: ?I am
Sometimes God will sigh: ?I am
a worm.?
The worm hisses: ?I am God?.?

Shri Guruji gave a call for total Satyagraha on December 9, 1948. As he was in prison, he nominated Sarkaryavah Shri Bhaiyyaji Dhani to lead the Satyagraha Movement by holding Shakhas all over the country. From that day, the Satyagraha gained momentum. Shouting slogans like Bharat Mata ki Jai! and ?Long Live Sangh?, batches of Swayamsevaks all over the country came out to hold Shakhas and the police took them into custody. The nationwide Satyagraha launched by Shri Guruji led to an animated and heated discussion among all sections of society in India about the illegal ban imposed by the Government of India on the RSS. In many places, apart from Swayamsevaks, even the common people not belonging to the RSS started putting up posters with the demand: ?Prove the charges against the RSS or lift the ban.? At the same time, lakhs of copies of pamphlets legally refuting the charges against the RSS and explaining its just and nationalist demand were distributed from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. There was a great enthusiasm among the Swayamsevaks for pushing the Satyagraha Movement to its logical conclusion, regardless of consequences. The Government of India had never imagined that more than 80,000 Satyagrahis would come forward to do Satyagraha and would be cheerfully willing to be thrown behind bars. It became virtually impossible for the police administration in all the states to deal with this very large number of ?cultural prisoners?. Simultaneously in many of the places the Swayamsevaks went on a hunger strike causing great worry to the government at various levels. The inhuman lathi charges on peaceful Satyagrahis in Madras city was condemned by eminent persons like T.R. Venkatrama Sastri of the Liberal Party and Swami Venkatachalam, a Member of Parliament.

Shri Guruji was still continuing in prison. There was no sign of the Satyagraha Movement stopping and of the enthusiasm of the Swayamsevaks abating. In January 1949, G.V. Ketkar, editor of the Pune-based daily Kesari met Shri Guruji in Sivani Jail twice and suggested to him that if the Satyagraha was suspended, it would pave the way for public-spirited persons like T.R. Venkatrama Sastri for initiating some moves for getting the ban on the RSS lifted. Shri Guruji agreed and gave a written directive for suspending the Satyagraha and finally on January 22, 1949, the suspension of Satyagraha was formally announced. The saga of the country-wide Satyagraha that was started on December 9, 1948, on the call of Shri Guruji came to a remarkably successful conclusion.

A wave of public sympathy for the RSS swept throughout the country. For a change, this was also reflected in the media. On January 22, 1949, The Tribune from Ambala remarked: ?The RSS leader has paved the way for eventual settlement by calling off the movement without any conditions. It is now for the Government of India to honourably withdraw the ban. Let the Government of India remember that a policy of suppression will never succeed in killing an organisation.? Likewise, The Statesman of Calcutta paid a personal tribute to Shri Guruji for the manner in which he conducted the agitation and stated: ?The ban on the RSS was causing the youth power to go to waste by keeping them behind bars.?

Realising that the public opinion was going against the Government of India, a request was made to Shri Guruji to prepare a written Constitution for the RSS and to send it to the Government of India for information. (It may be noted that till then RSS was functioning in a most disciplined way without even a written Constitution). Accordingly, some leading office-bearers of the RSS met T.R. Venkatrama Sastri in Madras and got a draft Constitution ready for the RSS in June 1949. It was finalised by Shri Guruji and forwarded to the Government of India for its information.

In the meantime, angered by the authoritarian and dictatorial attitude of the Government of India, T.R. Venkatrama Sastri had prepared a long statement to the press and sent it to them on July 6, 1949, with a request that it should not be published till July 13, 1949. The Government of India was rattled by this move. T.R. Venkatrama Sastri?s publication of his indictment in all the newspapers in India and abroad would have brought great shame to the government in the eyes of the people and so it was decided to lift the ban just a day prior to its proposed publication on July 13, 1949. Yet, The Hindu of Madras carried the entire statement of T.R. Venkatrama Sastri on its July 13 issue which fully exposed the Government of India. Reacting to the Government of India?s objection that ?The RSS Constitution was right enough, but the leaders of this organisation cannot be trusted to function within its scope?, T.R. Venkatrama Sastri in his strong statement said: ?Apart from being illegal, it would be hard on any organisation to say that in anticipation of a not unlikely unlawful action on the part of its members, it is not allowed to begin its work. A government or a State can be characterised as ?Fascist?, but not a private organisation like the RSS, to which no one is compelled to belong. One may join it, or refuse to join it, or having joined it may resign at will.?

On July 12, 1949, the ban on the RSS was removed unilaterally by the Government of India. Shri Guruji was released from Betul Jail on July 13, 1949. The Government of India covered itself with deathless shame and Shri Guruji with immortal glory in the pages of history.

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