Veteran Sangh Pracharak and vice president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Omkar Bhaway passed away in New Delhi on July 23 following severe breathing problems and chest congestion. He was 85. He was cremated at Nigambodh Ghat in the evening. His nephew Shri Govind Bhaway performed the last rites.
Bhawayji was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the capital on June 27. He had been on the ventilator for the last three weeks. He was brought to the VHP headquarters in RK Puram in the morning of July 23 after his condition deteriorated. He breathed his last in the headquarters itself.
Top VHP leaders including VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal, working president Shri S Vedantam, senior leaders Acharya Giriraj Kishore, Shri Champat Rai, Shri Dinesh Chandra, former RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan, senior Sangh Pracharak Shri Madhubhai Kulkarni, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Shri LK Advani, BJP president Shri Rajnath Singh, senior BJP leaders Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Shri Arun Jaitley, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Shri Bal Apte, Shri Anant Kumar, Shri Vinay Katiyar, Didi Maa Sadhvi Ritambhara, organising secretary of Vidya Bharati Shri Brahmdev Sharma ‘Bhaiji’, and many other leaders belonging to various organisations paid tributes to Bhawayji at the VHP headquarters.
Paying tribute at the VHP headquarters Shri KS Sudarshan said, “I first met Bhawayji in 1949 when I was studying in Jabalpur and was also Mukhya Shikshak of Golbazar Shakha. Whenever Bhawayji visited his brother’s house in Jabalpur he also attended our shakha. His association was very inspiring. He was then Zila Pracharak in Uttar Pradesh. His association used to make everybody happy. His whole life was dedicated to the cause of all-round development of the Hindu society.”
In his tribute RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat said the departure of Bhawayji is a loss of a father figure for thousands of workers across the country. “The departure of such a senior ideologue has developed a vacuum in the organisation. We can now just preserve the feeling of his determination, simplicity and sense of humour in our memory,” Shri Bhagwat said in a statement issued from Bhopal. The statement was also signed by Sahsarkaryavah Shri Madan Das, Uttar Kshetra Sanghachalak Dr Bajranglal Gupt, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh president Shri Annasaheb Murkure, Kisan Sangh general secretary Shri Prabhakar Rao Kelkar and Kisan Sangh organising secretary Shri Dinesh Kulkarni.
Former Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee said that in the death of Bhawayji a tapasvi and karmayogi had departed. His simplicity and dedication inspired millions of workers, he said. Shri LK Advani said Bhawayji was among the senior-most workers of VHP. His role in expansion of the VHP work would always be remembered. Dr Murli Manohar Joshi said Bhawayji had a unique quality of connecting people with the Sangh. “He was among the organisers of the Ayodhya movement. His role in the Ram Sethu movement will also be remembered. His death is a great loss for the Hindu society. He was an inspiration for many workers like me,” he said. Shri Rajnath Singh said the vacuum developed after his departure would remain for a long time. Shri Arun Jaitley said Bhawayji dedicated his entire life to the nation. Shri Venkaiah Naidu described him as “a great soul dedicated to the cause of development of the nation,” BJP leader said.
VHP president Shri Ashok Singhal said the departure of Bhawayji is a major setback to the VHP, as he was among the senior ideologues. “He was expert in presenting even the serious issues very lightly. He also had interest in writing. There was no subject in which Bhawayji had no knowledge. We used to consult him before taking any decision. Despite growing age he was quite healthy, as he used to do regular exercise. He and I joined the VHP in 1982 itself and he played a key role in all the agitations that the VHP undertook after 1982.”
Born on July 26, 1924, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bhawayji became a Sangh swayamsevak in 1938. He completed the first, second and third years of Sangh Shiksha Varga in 1940, 1941 and 1942 respectively. After completing graduation from Allahabad University, he became a Pracharak in 1945. First he became Nagar Pracharak of Prayag, then Zila Pracharak and then remained Vibhag Pracharak of Agra from 1957 to 1968. From 1968 to 1973 he was Vibhag Pracharak of Lucknow and also looked after the work of Rashtra Dharma Pustak Prakashan as manager and Rashtra Dharma as assistant editor. He was Vibhag Pracharak of Prayag from 1973 to 1978 and then Prayag Sambhag Pracharak from 1978 to 1980 and then Kashi Sambhag Pracharak from 1980 to 1982. He was also Prant Sharirik Pramukh of Poorvi Uttar Pradesh. Till 1961, Mukhya Shikshak of all the Sangh Shiksha Varga held in Uttar Pradesh used to come from Nagpur, but in 1962 Bhawayji became the first Mukhya Shikshak of the Varga from Uttar Pradesh. He actively participated in the movement against Emergency in 1975 and he could not be arrested during the whole agitation.
Bhawayji joined the VHP in 1982. He was the incharge of first Ekatmata Yatra conducted from Haridwar to Kanyakumari in 1983. When Sri Ramjanmabhoomi movement began in 1984 he became the senior secretary of Sri Ramjanmabhoomi Mukti Yajna Samiti. When the government seized all the Ram-Janaki Rathas after opening the locks of Sri Ramjanmabhoomi he led the agitation for taking back those Rathas. He also led a group of karsevaks during the karseva of 1990. He was actively associated with the Ramjanmabhoomi movement right from 1984 till he breathed his last. He became joint secretary general of VHP in 1995 and vice president in 2009. During that period he also guided the workers of Matrishakti and Durgavahini as well as Bajrang Dal all over the country. Since he had interest in writing, he was also editor and publisher of Hindu Vishwa, an official journal of VHP. He also translated many books and authored several books. His younger brother Shri Shankar Bhaway is a good VHP worker in Jhansi.