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Branding RSS as terrorists was loose talk. Ex-top cop, S M Mushrif, should not spread such dangerous ideas!

When RSS and terrorism are spoken in the same breath, there is definitely going to be feeding frenzy. National and international news media, both, are carrying the controversial comments made by the former Maharashtra inspector general of police, S M Mushrif, who last week declared the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to be India’s Number One terror group.

Chief Mohan Rao Bhagwat (C) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), attends a meeting in Siliguri on January 23, 2011. Bhagwat arrived in the city to hold meetings with representatives of various social organisations. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA

Media last week quoted him: “RSS activists have been chargesheeted in at least 13 cases of terror acts, in which RDX has been used. If organisations like Bajrang Dal are taken into the account, then the number of such cases goes up to 17. The RSS is India’s number one terrorist organisation, there is no doubt on this.”

While many would tend to agree to this radical idea, many more would reject it. RSS is close to a 100 years old organisation. It may have been set up as a right-wing, Hindu social service organisation, but its guiding principles for a very long time have been about upholding Indian culture and civilizational values, more than anything else.


There have been incidents that have created disharmony among people, in one way or another. During these incidents, live have been lost, too… They were condemnable acts, but to disgrace an organisation and its roots by saying they are terrorists, would be stretching it a bit too far.

The Swayamsevaks played a key role in India’s struggle for independence. It was set up as an alternative to the politics of mass anti-colonial struggle. It has established numerous schools, charities and clubs. It does its bit for the society, a society about which they have a clear idea. But they are not imposing that on us. They cannot, they are powerless. India is too vibrant, robust and dynamic to allow such idea if we didn’t want. But at the same time, many do join in because they agree to RSS’ ideology of a Hindu way of life. So there are for and against RSS, which is healthy for a thriving democracy.


But the 2007 Mecca Masjid bombing in Hyderabad, for example, which My Mushrif alluded to in his comments, was never proven to be linked to RSS. Aseemanand, the preacher, in a letter to the Courts and the President, Pratibha Patel, implored for protection against torture by the investigating agencies to ‘confess’. He was allegedly forced to implicate other radical Hindu people linked to RSS…

Whether there is any truth to all the allegations, we’ll know one day. For now, reserving judgment is the right thing to do. How right is branding RSS as a terrorist organisation, on the basis of deadly, yet isolated incidents? It’s a dangerous thought to spread, with many already saying Mushrif could be pandering to some political interests. He says, he has no doubt that RSS is bad. Incidentally, the Court does have a few.


Also, the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyse, the National Counterterrorism Center, the United States, and the United Nations have reported that Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami was actually behind the attacks, based on initial investigations.

The investigations are going on and one person’s belief shouldn’t become everyone’s reality… but there is danger of that happening when such comments hit impressionable minds. Mr Mushrif could use some restraint for India’s sake. Terrorist is too hard a word. He is bloody, without any soul. He has no morals, no faith. He only knows how to kill.

Is Mr Mushrif saying RSS is all about all the above? There are countless RSS members who have dedicated their lives to the service of the nation. They live humble lives, the Swayamsevaks, and they do it for us. Are they also bad guys?