On invitation of Pt Nehru Government, a contingent of over 3000 RSS swayamsevaks, had joined the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath on January 26, 1963. When those swayamsevaks watch the Parade at Rajpath today their memories of January 26, 1963, are afresh
It was indeed a proud moment for the RSS swayamsevaks of Delhi when they joined the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath on January 26, 1963. However, it was done at a very short notice, barely 24 hours before the beginning of the Parade, they did it with perfection.
A news item about the participation of the Sangh swayamsevaks in Republic Day Parade at Rajpath published in Organiser, issue dated February 3, 1963
Recalling that day Shri Vijay Kumar, who then lived at Farsh Bazar of Shahdara and held the responsibility of Mandal Karyavah, says: “There was an invitation from Pt Nehru Government to join the march-past. Shri Sohan Singh ji was then Sambhag Pracharak, which included Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K. When the government representative came with the offer, Shri Sohan Singh ji made it clear that the swayamsevaks can join the march-past only in their ‘ganvesh’ (uniform) along with the ‘danda’ and ‘ghosh’. The government representative left saying that they would ‘inform about it shortly’.”
The late Shri Sohan Singh
“To the best of my knowledge, the information about permitting us to join the Parade in ganvesh reached 24 hours before. As the official communication came, Sohan Singh ji worked tirelessly to inform the workers to prepare for the march-past. He made telephone calls the whole night informing about the location of the buses to pick up the swayamsevaks. Senior swayamsevaks on the ground too worked overnight to further prepare the swayamsevaks, because everybody then did not have telephone connections and there was severe lack of other means of communication including cars, motorcycles, scooters, etc. Finally, before the stipulated time, all the buses were packed to their capacity and many swayamsevaks could not find space in buses. Over 3000 swayamsevaks reached Rajpath. Our ‘contingent’ was to march in the last. But during that wait, nobody was getting bored. As is the tradition in the Sangh shakhas, we all sang patriotic songs and enjoyed the moment. Many of the army officers recorded our songs. As our turn came and our contingent started marching on the tune of Sangh band, the commentator said ‘you know well all these people who are marching with discipline’. The commentary was very moving and the words that the commentator used about our marching contingent were very inspiring,” recalls Shri Vijay Kumar, who was then working with the Times of India Group.
“As our contingent started marching on the tune of Sangh band, the commentator used very inspring words about the marching swayamsevaks —Vijay Kumar, Shahdara The swayamsevaks had reached early morning. But the Parade began at 9.00 am and their turn came at about 1.00 pm. But none of them bothered to have their breakfast. About 200 ghosh swayamsevaks also joined the Parade with their instruments. When asked what was the motivation behind the then government inviting the RSS workers for the Parade, Shri Vijay Kumar says, “The swayamsevaks’ active support to the army during 1962 war against China was surely the prime factor, Nehruji wanted the society too to join the parade. At that time Bharat Sevak Samaj and RSS were the only two major organisations, which could join the Parade. But the strength of Bharat Sevak Samaj was almost nil. Hence, the government invited the RSS, which was very strong on the ground and could prepare for the march-past at the short notice. But when the government invitation came, the RSS categorically said that it would not join without its uniform, and the government finally permitted. We were informed 24 hours before start of the Parade. Even then, we joined without any rehearsal,” Shri Vijay Kumar added.
“We contributed Rs 697 and purchased some fruits for the jawans. we gifted those fruits to the jawans going towards Punjab by train at New Delhi Railway Station —KL Pathela, Janakpuri Shri Vijay Kumar points out that Shri KL Pathela, who now edits ‘Vishwakarma Sanket’ the house journal of the country’s largest labour organisation, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, and Shri Mohanlal Rustagi of Krishna Nagar were also with them. “It was indeed a jubilant moment that the government invited us to join the Republic Day Parade. It is a proud moment for every Indian. The man who had declared in the Parliament that ‘I will crush the RSS’, invited us with all respect to join the Parade. On his comment in the Parliament, Shri Syama Prasad Mookerjee had then said: “I will crush your crushing mentality”.
“Impressed with our songs army officials provided us loudspeaker so that others also can hear the songs. When we marched on Rajpath we felt as if we were no less than solidiers —Mohan Lal Rustagi, Krishna NagarRecalling that proud moment Shri KL Pathela says: “Even at this age of 89 I have not forgotten that day of January 26, 1963. I can recall every moment of that day. When we some of the swayamsevaks of Janakpuri (New Delhi) Shakha got this news, it thrilled us. Apart from joining the Parade, the significant feeling was that the Nehru Government respected the patriotic spirit of the RSS workers. I remember that we two swayamsevaks from Janakpuri joined the march-past. When our contingent passed through the Salami Manch, the audience welcomed us with huge clapping. We had marched to India Gate.”
Apart from the march-past by swayamsevaks, the ghosh performance was also hugely appreciated by one and all. Some army officials recorderded the songs sung by swayamsevaksWhen asked why the Nehru Government invited the Sangh swayamsevaks for the Parade, Shri Pathela says: “During the 1962 war, the Sangh swayamsevaks worked with the nation shoulder to shoulder. We helped the army even at their bunkers. One day when the swayamsevaks reached the bunkers with ‘kheer’, firing was on, but the swayamsevaks reached inside the bunkers and served ‘kheer’ to the jawans.”
Shri Pathela remembers another incident of the war: “When the jawans were rushing to the border in trains, trucks, etc, the people extended them full support everywhere. We some swayamsevaks of Delhi collected Rs 697 to help the jawans. We purchased fruits for the jawans and reached New Delhi Railway Station with those fruits. A train full of the jawans was going towards Punjab. We distributed fruits among them in different compartments. They said you people have given so much fruits that we do not have space to keep them. Better, you distribute these to the needy people. Not only the RSS swayamsevaks, but the workers of the RSS associated organisations also supported the government. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh had suspended all its agitations. Today, when I visit any of the shakha, I share that experience with the swayamsevaks. It is necessary to know that the nation is first for all of us. We cannot forget this spirit of a Sangh swayamsevak.”
Recalling that moment Shri Mohan Lal Rustagi says that he feel proud to see the Republic Day Parade and share his experience with younger generation today. “As we got the information from Jhandewalan and shared that with the swayamsevaks, everybody was busy in arranging ganvesh. Those who did not complete ganvesh tried to arrange from other swayamsevaks. We started singing Sangh songs to pass the time. Impressed with the songs and fervour of the swayamsevaks some army officials provided us loudspeaker so that others can also hear our songs. When we marched on Rajpath we felt as if we were no less than the solidiers. The performance of our ghosh was also hugley appreciated. It was an unforgetable experience which cannot be explained in words.” Shri Rustagi was then 36 years old and held the responsibility of Vibhag Karyavah.