Indelible bonds of RSS with Punjab

November 17, 2021 02:45 PM

Ajay Bhardwaj

During his visit to Punjab in 1960 when the then RSS chief  MS Golwalkar said in Jalandhar that living in Punjab the Punjabi is the mother tongue of every person, including that of the Hindus, he was underlining that basic ethos of Punjabiyat that the RSS has always upheld vigorously.

Golwalkar's statement came at a time when the Bharatiya Jana Sangh had joined the “Save Hindi agitation” launched by the Arya Paritinidhi Sabha in 1956 to convince the  Punjabi Hindus to mention Hindi as their mother tongue in the 1961 Census.

And it was not for the first time that the RSS was articulating its pro-Punjab idiom. During the days of the Partition, the RSS played a hugely constructive role in not only providing security to the migrants, both Sikhs and Hindus, coming from across the border but also providing an elaborate arrangement for food and shelter to them. 

The RSS set its foot on Punjab in 1937 when Dr Hedgewar sent three pracharkas, KD Joshi, Digambar Paturkar (Rajabhau) and  Moreshwar Munje to strike the roots in a state that was caught fiercely with communal hatred.

In 1938 the RSS organised its first Shiksha Varg in Lahore where Dr Hedgewar and MS Golwalkar came to participate.

By 1947 it has set its feet firmly on the ground in Punjab with over 84,000 volunteers on its list with shakhas taking place at around 1200 places.

During the partition days, the RSS volunteers played a pivotal role in not only providing food and shelter to the migrants but made sure that their safety and security were also taken care of. The RSS ran more than 2000 relief camps at a time when communal frenzy had seized the region. If there was one organisation that took the Muslim National Guards and the Muslim League head-on, it was the RSS. Even Congress had buckled under pressure.

Later, when the Punjabi Suba agitation built up in Punjab the RSS made sure that in the name of language there was no divide between the Sikhs and the Hindus for the simple reason that both the communities shared a common cultural ethos. Golwalkar's intervention during those times to tell the Hindus in Punjab to stick to Punjabi as their mother tongue was a historic step that went on to reaffirm how the RSS valued Punjab and Punjabiyat.

The RSS kept playing this role of communal amity and harmony even during the blood-soaked days of terrorism in Punjab.

In the pre-Bluestar days when Hindus were being targetted by militants, the RSS seniors made sure that there was no communal backlash. Some Hindu groups did want to react violently to the militant attacks, but the RSS prevailed on them and advised them to keep peace with the times. Many senior RSS functionaries trooped in to persuade the Hindu families not to migrate from the state in view of the terrorist activities.

In order to make sure that there were no communal fissures in the society the RSS workers, in fact, launched a platform called Panchnad for a dialogue on the issues plaguing the society. People of diverse opinions would gather and discuss the torrid times.

In 1989 when 25 RSS volunteers were shot down by militants and 35 were left injured gasping for their life in Moga it was Khushwant Singh, one of the best-known Indian writers of all times, who said that “RSS helped to protect Sikhs during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. In spite of this, the Khalistani terrorists executed the brutal 1989 Moga massacre."

There were sporadic attacks on the RSS during the militancy period but the entire senior echelon of the RSS made sure that the communal harmony and safety did not take a toll during the torrential times.

Even today, the RSS has been addressing issues like drugs and organic farming that are of urgency in Punjab.

In this entire context, it was far too unbecoming on the part of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to have run down RSS in the state Assembly without checking on facts and background. Moreover, to name the RSS in Assembly was simply unconstitutional and a breach of norms because there was no representative of the RSS to answer the charge the chief minister levelled against it.

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