The 14th and 15th of August is a strange time for India when it oscillates between mourning and revelry, from horrors of partition to the festivities of independence within a few hours. It’s also a strange period when the left-toolkit gang gets sleepless nights if they do not immerse themselves in digging out old statements of RSS leaders and portray them as a group of a brahmin clique who stayed away from political and social churnings in that period, who disrespected the national flag, the national anthem, the national leadership and therefore an anti-national organisation. Nothing can be further from the truth and truth has a way of coming out even if buried ten feet under for decades.
Thanks to the scores of first-hand accounts of people who’ve lived through the terrors of partition the monumental contribution of RSS to the helpless Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and other minorities is now available to us.
Manikchandra Vajpayee and Sridhar Paradkar, authors of Partition Days: The Fiery struggle of the RSS a heart-churning read of how the Congress leadership left the Hindus at the mercy of Muslim League monsters, the vengeful Pakistani army and police and the Muslim mobs while they took the first flight to India. Who then came to their rescue?
‘In such times swayamsevaks of the RSS came forward. Without concern for their own families, they risked everything to protect fellow Hindus. The Punjab relief committee was set up. Relief camps were opened in many places. Hindus from nearby villages, who were not secure, were brought to these camps and from there taken to India with the help of the Indian army and they did not think it was the end of their duty. They even provided food and shelter to lakhs of displaced fellow countrymen for months together.”
Countless swayamsevaks selflessly worked and sacrificed their lives in serving in the hostile environment of Pakistan helping thousands of helpless people and families who had been abandoned by the system. AN Bali, a professor of English at Lahore gives another first-hand account of what really happened there in his book, Now It Can be told. He writes “Non-Violence and the advice given by (Congress leaders), to stay out where they were with a firm trust in God could only be given from a safe distance. Who else came to the rescue of the people at this stage, but a band of young selfless Hindus, popularly known as the RSS. They organised in every Mohalla of every town of the province the work of evacuation of the Hindu and Sikh women and children from dangerous pockets to comparatively safe centres. They organised their feeding, medical aid, clothing and care.”
And when the situation worsened the swayamsevaks even picked up arms. He adds “When the situation on the eve of partition became very serious and law and order utterly broke down or it would be more correct to say, was now used only to suppress the Hindus and Sikhs, several members of the RSS showed their proficiency in the use of fire weapons. It almost became a tit-for-tat. These young men were the first to come to the help of the stricken Hindus and Sikhs and were the last to leave their places for safety in East Punjab.”
The swayamsevaks did not distinguish between religions while performing their duty “There are cases which came to (the) notice, where the Muslim women and children were safely escorted out of the Hindu Mohallas and sent to Muslim League refugee centres in Lahore by the RSS men.” Further adds Bali.
The helplessness of the situation can be understood from a letter written by the then defence minister Baldev Singh to Sardar Patel in 1947. Among the many suggestions, he asks Sardar Patel to seek help from RSS to help rescue a spate of abductions (20000 women) in the district of Sialkot. He writes “ I feel we should not hesitate to take help of such people. These men might be regularly employed by the intelligence department under a Special Superintendent of Police. Some details have been suggested of this organisation necessary and I give them here for consideration:
The Superintendent of Police and 20 deputy Superintendents of Police of the highest integrity should be selected from among the existing Police Force. Rashtrya Sawam Sewak Sangh will supply trained men for “Field Work” and Shree Golwarker jee, the head of Sangh in India might be consulted. Other such organisations in the Punjab, still secretly working can all be asked to give help.”
MS Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak of RSS in an article in Purushartha wrote about the valour of swayamsevaks in Punjab “In those days, Sangh swayamsevaks showed unparalleled courage and capacity in saving many families. People were amazed at the way the whole task was accomplished. At that time, I stayed for some days in Amritsar in order to study the situation and encourage the swayamsevaks. I visited camps, where I met people who now hold high positions. They prostrated themselves before me and said, but for your Sangh, we and our women and children would not have been saved. I met Army officers who too praised the great courage of swayamsevaks. Thus the Sangh was praised everywhere.”
The tales of valour and ferocity of RSS workers had begun to threaten even the Muslim League. The mouthpiece of the Muslim League, Dawn, reacted by writing, “If Congress leadership wishes to receive co-operation from Muslims, then it must ban the Sangh immediately.”
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Home Minister of India, in a reply to Shri Guruji in 1948 appreciated the contribution of RSS and their service to Hindu society during the partition, especially the role the youth played in saving the lives of women and children.
The work that RSS did during the partition can be seen as a work of great foresight in the context of things. One has to understand that the RSS was a fledgling organisation during the partition, barely 29 years old. In that short period, within a decade it had more than 100 pracharaks working in undivided Punjab, with 58 of them coming from Lahore itself. There were more than 1,500 RSS daily shakhas with a daily attendance of more than one lakh swayamsevaks in undivided Punjab. It was this organisational strength that prevented a complete obliteration of Hindus and Sikhs in Punjab.
The tales of valour and selflessness embodied by the swayamsevaks of the RSS during the partition run into hundreds of tales. Books have been written, articles published with uncountable references to their supreme sacrifice and even the top leadership of Congress had once a deep sense of gratitude towards this organisation. But the current opposition leadership with its robust ecosystem jumps at every opportunity to deride, disqualify and deny and systematically obliterate from the history books, RSS’s monumental contribution during those dark days.
But disregard the politics of our times, the people of this country must always remember these words of Pakistani author AN Bali “When the entire Punjab was on fire and Congress leaders were sitting helplessly in Delhi, at that time volunteers of RSS saved the people of Punjab with their discipline, and physical strength, risking their own lives,”.