IT takes the Home Minister one full month to issue a clarification as regret, albeit apology for making a rash statement at Jaipur. The reasons are evident, an extremely hurt opposition threatening to boycott the parliament in the absence of an apology, the vital Budget session at hand and the mounting anxiety within the Congress over the effect of comment on Hindu vote bank as the next general elections are coming closer. By regretting his statement linking terrorism with (not) any religion and interpretations thus drawn from his ‘baseless’ comment of ‘Saffron Terror’, has Shri Shinde done enough?
Though now he has admitted that the statement was baseless, it creates a question mark over the accountability of the Government of which he is an important member as Home Minister. Does this regret serve enough ointment to embalm the wounds made on the face of the nation and the religious and patriotic character of the few organisations he named in his controversial statement? His regret may heal wounds to some extent but will leave a big scar on the face of the nation in the form of the factionalist political discourse. Pertinent is the moral gap between the unifying efforts of the first Home Minister Sardar Vallbabh Bhai Patel and the present one.
‘Bhagwa’, saffron, the color of sacrifice and knowledge, one of the three colors of our national flag was used as an adjective to terrorism by Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Home Minister. This act by a person holding such a high post in the Government of India has ashamed each and every patriot, if not himself and the political organisation of which he is a part. Not only the statement made by Shri Shinde is shocking but also more surprising is its timing. When there is a nationwide celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the Indian ambassador of our spiritual heritage world in saffron, and when people from over a hundred countries are thronging to Allahabad for the holy dip in the Mahakumbh, the comment comes almost an insult.
India has been facing the problem of cross border terrorism for a long time mostly supported even if tacitly by the state of Pakistan. When India was involved seriously in a verbal war with Pakistan over the beheading of Indian soldiers, the statement of the home minister Shinde has given surface to the handlers of terrorists sitting across the border to show India at her inner fault lines and thus giving them an opportunity to walk off clean which is evident from the statement made by Hafeez Saeed, main conspirator of the 26/11 attack in Mumbai.
‘Bhagwa’ symbolizes the values of sacrifice and knowledge. Does the sacrifice made by all martyrs for the motherland is referred to as ‘Bhagwa atankwaad’ or does it refer to the knowledge of all the great saints who adore saffron? Swami Vivekananda also used to wear saffron and the whole world knows and respects him for his knowledge and preaching.
Shri Shinde in his statement on ‘Bhagwa aatankwad’ has alleged RSS and BJP of training terrorists at their camps. These camps have been an essential aspect of the RSS since its inception and volunteers thus ‘trained’ had been admired by even the Congressmen. Perhaps Shri Shinde might not have known that many of the veterans and former Prime Ministers of India belonging to his party had altogether different views towards RSS. Pt. Nehru even went on to the extent of assigning RSS and not the Sewa Dal number of important jobs at the time of national emergency. In 1947, during Pakistan aggression in Kasmir , Indian army approached RSS, not Sewa Dal for repair and maintenance of the air strips at Jammu, Poonch, Srinagar and Baramulla. In 1962, at the time of China war, RSS again showed its patriotic character. For this the then Prime Minister Pt. Nehru asked RSS leadership to send a special marching contingent of RSS workers to take part in the Republic Day parade. Sarvodaya leader Lok Nayak Jaiparkash Naryan was so impressed by the RSS workers that he is reported to have said, “If RSS is communal, I am also communal.’’
In 1965, again at the time of Pakistan war, when all the so called secular leaders were using phrase of “Your Government, your Army ” in all party meeting called by then Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, it was RSS chief Shri MS Golvarkar, who used the phrase “Our Government, Our Army”. It is also a remarkable fact that RSS chief was called in this all party meet to represent RSS, an apolitical organization. RSS was given the responsibility of controlling traffic in Delhi. This must be for being a nationalist organization that such a big responsibility was given to RSS. During 1971 war when ‘RSS trained’ Sh Atal Bihari Vajpayee, showing full solidarity in spite of political differences, had called upon Mrs. Indira Gandhi to fight and vanquish the enemy like a Durga, none of the so called secular brigade had called him communal.
The government not only ignores ATS reports, throws aside the dossier it had given to Pakistan regarding the involvement of Pakistan based terrorists outfits for blasts, and the UNO resolutions point finger at the terrorist groups like LeT for their involvement in the Samjhauta Express and slaps a ban on such groups. Swami Assemanand the man accused in the Samjhauta Express explosion alleges being tortured by NIA and coerced to make to give confessional statements. The other accused in the same case Sadhavi Pragya is said to have become a cancer patient. Dilip Patidar is reported to have been abducted by government agencies and is missing till date. Harshad Solanki and Bharat Bhai are said to have been offered Rs.One crore by NIA to name RSS in terror activities. If these reports are true ,questions are being raised regarding the role of NIA ,and why there is not the need to investigate into the verity of allegations against NIA?
Shri Shinde justifies his comment by referring to the ten people who have been arrested for Samjhauta Express and other blast cases, though no charges have so far been framed against them. He also alleges that they have been associated with RSS at some point of time. According to the same logic if we consider Jagdish Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and many more Congressmen against whom charges have been framed for their involvement in 1984 riots, Indian National Congress must also be termed a terrorist group.
Therefore Shri Shinde and other likeminded people must introspect before making statements of saffron terror and present the truth to the people of the nation to whom they are accountable if not in terms of decisions and actions at least for votes once every five years if not less. It is high time, they should stop looking for scapegoats to veil their own misgivings and failures.