Recently, I was in Punjab and happened to meet a lot of people. One unique personality is Shri Pran Salhotra, a dedicated RSS worker, whose one leg had been amputated after an accident. Interaction with him gave an insight of the sincerity, will power and enthusiasm despite advance age of the man. Here are some of the reminiscences of the two-day long meeting.
During a visit to Punjab in June 2006, I was in conversation with an 80-year old veteran RSS activist based in Gurdaspur. Shri Pran Salhotra had a chequered career during his life. He lives in Gurdaspur and devotes his time in reading and writing. He has been regularly contributing articles and letters to the Tribune, Organiser and Sainya Sandesh, a monthly journal of Akhil Bharatiya Poorva Sainik Sewa Parishad, an organisation of ex-servicemen for the overall welfare of them, their family members and widows of the martyrs of various wars that India had from 1947 to 1999.
Shri Pran Salhotra was born in 1926 and had joined RSS in 1940 as a student of the Government Central Weaving Institute at Amritsar (Punjab). After completion of his course in Textile Technology, he moved to Mumbai in 1942 and joined Government service in the Indian Stores Department Textiles under the British Government. Later, he joined Indian Air Force and served in several places till he took voluntary discharge. However, he had kept casual contact with the organisation through his cousin Shri Baldev Raj Salhotra, an old and well known Pracharak of Punjab in 1940-1950s who had been jailed every time the RSS was banned by successive Congress led governments in the country.
He had also been a member of a political party ideologically different from RSS and its then political wing Jan Sangh. As for managing such opposing environment and relationships, Shri Salhotra says, ?After leaving the Government service, I had renewed my association with RSS/Jan Sangh in 1962. In 1964, I joined newly formed Swantatra Party which was then considered a better option than the Jan Sangh to break the monopoly of Congress Party in a multi-religious, multi-linguistic India'smanifested by the utter failure of Hindu Maha Sabha.? He goes on to elaborate his continued association with RSS, ?As I mentioned earlier I had joined Swantatra Party and became an office-bearer for Gurdaspur and the adjoining areas. Still keeping my contacts with RSS intact, I had sought blessings of Guru Golwalkar Ji, the then RSS Chief and had exchanged letters with him. He gave me his ?Ashirwad? through a letter written by his own hand because it is a fact that RSS is non-political, non-religious Organisation viz. National Volunteer organisation or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, i.e. when interpreted. Sorry, I cannot disclose the full contents of my letter as a District Secretary of Swatantra party and Guruji'sas the RSS Chief. However, the gist of the exchange of letters was that Guruji had apologized for the delay of 15 days only in reply as he was on tour and admired my association with the RSS along with owing allegiance to the political party I belonged to at that time. Finally, he wrote that serving the nation should be the motto irrespective of party affiliation and ?praying for your love and sympathy for the work? was the concluding remark. It was in August 1967. In retrospect, I bow my head with warmest respect to the great visionary the Guruji was.?
He had undertaken a vigorous membership drive for the newly founded Akhil Bharatiya Poorva Sainik Sewa Parishad (ABPSSP) for enrolment of ex-servicemen from interiors of District Gurdaspur. He had been also been associated with ?Praudh Shiksha Nagar Karva? of the RSS since 1999 and could easily communicate with ex-servicemen. He further said that ABPSSP played a vital role in Lok Sabha elections in 1999 and 2004 in ensuring victory for the NDA nominee?Shri Vinod Khanna of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Question: Finally, Mr. Pran Salhotra, some personal questions about your family life and present activities in that you are on a wheel-chair. How are you managing your activities and in participation of RSS and ABPSSP? What is your past time?
In conclusion, regarding his present activities and family life, Shri Pran Salhotra, says, ?While in Swantatra Party, I was District Secretary in Ex-Servicemen'sleague during 1970-80. Initially, I was very active and could move around for enrolment of members for ABPSSP but ever since my one leg was amputated in an accident, I had been on a wheel-chair. I regret that due to this handicap, I have not been able to do ?leg work? for my organisation. However, since 2002, I have been writing articles and letters to Tribune, the Organiser and Sainya Sandesh? the monthly journal of ABPSSP. I am fully satisfied with my family of a very devoted wife, two sons and one daughter, all well-settled and they look after me. My writings are my past time and I feel satisfaction in writing on the welfare of Indians and ex-servicemen in particular. ?The meeting ended with exchange of pleasantries.