Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sahsarkaryavah Shri Dattatreya Hosabale visited quake-torn Nepal immediately after the disaster struck the Himalayan neighbour. He shared the sorrows and agony of the victims, understood their needs and requirements and joined the relief operations conducted by the volunteers of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) there. Panchjanya senior correspondent Arun Kumar Singh spoke to him after he returned from Nepal to have first hand information of the disaster. Excerpts:
- It is said Nepal would require much time to rise again from this disaster. What is the extent and dimension of the damage there?
Nepal was hit by a similar quake eight decades ago. It is a quake-prone region. This time six districts are badly hit. It is estimated that around 10-15 thousand people died in the disaster besides a number of domestic animals. Since the quake took place during the day time people got time to save themselves. Had it been in the night, it would have caused tremendous damage to both life and property .
- The news about 20,000 RSS volunteers rushing to help the quake victims was in circulation in the social media from the very next day. Was there any truth in that report?
No. This was wrong and it was contested by the RSS Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh and me. In fact, one of the senior karyakartas of a certain region had said that 20,000 RSS volunteers could go to Nepal for conducting relief operations, if need arises. Social media took it otherwise and circulated the news that 20,000 RSS volunteers had gone to Nepal for relief work. It is difficult, impossible and impractical to send such a huge number of workers to that country. Social media should not have indulged in such publicity.
- What type of relief activities are being carried out by the RSS workers for the quake victims of Nepal?
RSS is not conducting any relief activity in Nepal. But it is definitely intimating the Government of India about the multifarious difficulties in conducting the relief operations there. RSS is working in Bharat and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) is working in Nepal drawing inspiration from the Sangh. The HSS workers plunged into action immediately after the quake hit Nepal. They were accompanied by Pragyik Vidyarthi Parishad, (Nepal), Vishwa Hindu Parishad (Nepal), Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, Janjati Kalyan Ashram, Rashtriya Shramik Sangh activists also. They are all citizens of Nepal. I witnessed there over one thousand such activists were busy in relief and rescue operations. They were providing water bottles and food items to the victims besides starting a helpline to communicate with their Bharatiya relatives or friends. They performed the last rites of the deceased, took the injured to hospitals and carried the bodies of those outsider’s who perished in the quake to their families for last rites. For example, seven women from Guwahati died in a hotel. Their bodies were taken to Guwahati with the help of these volunteers. Besides many organisations from India like Patanjali Yogapeeth, Art of Living, etc are also extending relief to the victims.
- The HSS activists are working there with the inspiration of RSS. What is the principle which inspires the volunteers to rush to help the people caught in any calamity?
It has been the tradition of the RSS to help the people affected by any calamity—natural of accident. RSS volunteers plunge immediately in relief and rescue operations in such hours of distress and destruction without waiting for any instruction. This is our culture and tradition. This also underlines the fact that the RSS volunteers have tremendous faith in their organisation.
- While some organisations are helping the quake victims, there are some organisations and nations, which are sending copies of Bible and ‘Beef Masala’ to Nepal. How do you look at this?
Some people have the habit of encashing an opportunity in such disasters too to further their vested interests. There is a saying in Kannada that says ‘I would light the bidi, while your beard burns’. I request the Government of Nepal to probe such elements on whose behest the copies of Bible and ‘Beef Masala’ reached Nepal. I appeal to the citizens of Nepal to remain vigilant about such malicious efforts.
- Many Sangh-inspired organisations have appealed to the people to help the victims of Nepal quake. What type of relief has been sent to Nepal?
The Chief Secretary of Nepal Government placed the demand for five lakh tarpaulin. So far we have sent 25,000 tarpaulins with help of the government and voluntary organisations. It is very difficult task to send any material to Nepal. Roads are damaged and the truck owners are demanding very high and unreasonable charges as they want to reap the benefits of the situation. Airlift of relief material too have some limitations. Still our karyakartas are engaged in the operations. They need bleaching powder to purify the atmosphere getting polluted with the foul smelling of died bodies. When we told the Health Ministry of India they dispatched two truckloads of bleaching powder. Oxygen cylinders are also needed for the injured. We have told this to the Health Ministry. But the most important question is how to take this material to Nepal. That restricts the relief operations.
- Whether the RSS has prepared any plan of rehabilitation of quake victims in Nepal?
We have given a thought to this. There are three dimensions to deal with such natural calamities. One is rescue, Two is relief and Three is rehabilitation. I met Prime Minister, Home Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister and discussed with them how to offer joint help for rehabilitation to the victims. We do not have any political or religious agenda in their help. We have only one agenda—to serve the humanity. We have discussed with the Prime Minister of Nepal and Chief Secretary also on this issue. They also want help from Bharat in rehabilitation. Many other countries also want to extend help in it. Therefore, the Government of Nepal should first make a blue print of rehabilitation and explain how the voluntary organisations or foreign governments could help them. This is our appeal to Governmen of Nepal. We want to work at three levels—hostels for orphaned children, rebuilding of destroyed houses and reconstruction of damaged temples. Government of India also is ready to help. The world community wants to see Nepal a thriving nation once again.
- The relief operation in Nepal by Government of India has been praised widely. Before this, the Government successfully rescued thousands of Indians and foreigners from Yemen. How do you look at this action of the Government of India in Nepal?
The relief operations by Government of India are definitely praiseworthy. India has succeeded in projecting its image as a nation capable of relief operations in remote areas of the world. People of Bharat are also confident that that they can do relief work anywhere in the world. The Prime Minister himself is making efforts in this direction. Today, the Government of India has emerged as a force in disaster management areas and we are proud of this.
- Looking at the relief work conducted by Indian Army in Nepal certain elements have propagated that Bharat wanted to interfere in Nepal’s internal matters. What is your view on it?
This is not a new thing. There have been misinformation campaigns in Nepal against Bharat for long. Efforts are on to cultivate anti-Bharat elements in Nepal’s public life, political field, bureaucracy, media, etc. Nepal is a buffer state between China and India. Bharat should stand as guarantee to Nepal’s sovereignty and freedom. This has been the policy of Bharat and this should continue. The relations of Bharat and Nepal date back to Ramayana and Mahabharata period. They are tied firmly with the holy Ganga, soil, Buddha, Himalaya and Pashupatinath. Therefore, we should strive diplomatically and honestly to end the anti-India feelings in Nepal. With the coming of Narendra Modi government in India a positive attitude has come in the people of Nepal towards India. This is also true that the people of Nepal look at Bharat in their hour of distress. They do not go to China because they have an affinity towards Bharat. Therefore, it is the duty of people of India to help Nepal regain its lost riches and happiness.