Unequal Encounter
And from then on started an encounter with the Government. It was the most unequal encounter in our country’s history. On one side were stalwarts like Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel, who were at the peak of their popularity, ably assisted by the famous steel frame of the Indian Civil Service (ICS) that conducted and managed the administration of the British Empire, and on the other was Shri Guruji, with no or little experience of the wily ways of politics, and mostly alone, interned in a jail. At that time, not only was the Government against the RSS, the people in general, who believed in the vicious propaganda of the interested elements and also the whole media had become anti-RSS. And under the ban, the mouth of the RSS was gagged. So, it was a one-sided terrible onslaught. But Shri Guruji victoriously pulled the RSS out of this dense cloud of calumny.
How firmly he stood his ground, stood erect and unflinching, is a saga of fortitude and commitment to truth, worth remembering in the year of his centenary celebrations.
Shri Guruji was released from the jail on August 6, 1948. On August 11, he wrote to both Prime Minister Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Patel. The letters written to Pandit Nehru are in English and those written to Sardar Patel are mostly in Hindi, except those written from the Seoni jail (now in Madhya Pradesh). He writes to Pandit Nehru: “It is a fact that I could not then understand, why a very large number of my friends and I were arrested and detained and subsequent steps taken in respect of the work I was representing. I have tried to convince myself by the oft-repeated argument that the times were extraordinary and the hasty and unbalanced action was the result. I do not wish to believe that persons occupying the highest importance can or should be susceptible to impatience, hastiness or loss of mental balance. But that is the only conclusion forced upon me when after six months detention, when sufficient evidence has come to light and I and my work have been absolved of all the astounding allegations laid at our door, I have been served with an order interning me in Nagpur and restricting my activities in such a manner that my release has become a fresh imprisonment in a more extensive jail.
“But whatever the mental condition of the authorities in general and yourself in particular may have then been and may now be, I am grateful to the Almighty that he has not let my mind turn sour and that I maintain my spirit of love and friendship and oneness. I hope and expect all my co-workers share my sentiments.”
The letter of the same date to Sardar Patel, too, is in the same spirit. In the concluding part of this letter to Sardar Patel, Shri Guruji writes, “I am also unhappy, that in these difficult times of our Nation, I am denied the opportunity of discharging my duty of cooperating with the Government.” What sort of cooperation Shri Guruji was envisaging is clear from his letter to Pandit Nehru dated September 24, 1948. Shri Guruji writes, “During this period, the RSS having been disbanded, the intelligent youth are rapidly falling into the snares of Communism. With the alarming happenings in Burma, Indo-China, Java and other neighbouring states, we can envisage the nature of the menace. The effective check of the RSS no longer exists. The Communists have always considered the RSS as their main obstacle and had tried to denounce and vilify it. In Mahatmaji’s assassination and the ban on the RSS, they got their life’s opportunity, which they exploited to denounce the RSS and push forward their work. News of their progress is alarming. I hope you will consider this problem coolly and help create an atmosphere in which the RSS will be able to work honourably and help the Government fight the menace on its own cultural lines.”
From hindsight, it can now be said that Shri Guruji’s offer of cooperation must have been totally and immediately discarded, because Pandit Nehru himself at that time was enamoured with Communist theory and practice. His delusion about Communism and Communists lasted till 1962, when Communist China attacked India and completely shattered Pandit Nehru’s illusory dream.
Nehru’s Charges
This letter of Shri Guruji was acknowledged by Shri A.V. Pai, an officer in the PMO. Shri Pai, on behalf of the Prime Minister, writes: “He (i.e. P.M.) wants me to inform you that he is not prepared to accept your statement that the RSS are free from blame or that the charges against them are without foundation. Government have great deal of information in their possession to show that the RSS were engaged in activities which were anti-national and prejudicial from the point of view of public good. Just before the banning of the RSS he is informed that the UP Government sent you a note on some of the evidence they have collected about such activities of the RSS in UP. Other provinces have also such evidence in their possession. Even after the ban, we have received information about the undesirable activities of the old members of the RSS. You will appreciate that in view of this, the Government cannot consider the RSS as a harmless organisation from the public point of view… The approach of the RSS as well as their activities have been definitely communal. What sometimes their leaders say is not borne out by what is done and there is a great disparity between outward precept and real practice.” In this very letter, the PM informed that the matter of continuing or not continuing the ban is for the Home Ministry to deal with and hence “your letter is being forwarded to them.”
Forthright Rejoinder
Shri Guruji was amply forthright in replying to this letter. When this letter of September 27 reached Shri Guruji, it was October 4. By this time Pandit Nehru had gone to England for the Commonwealth Conference. Shri Guruji replied to him on November 3. This was from Delhi, as restrictions on his movements were removed and he was allowed to come to Delhi. Shri Guruji desired to meet in person, the PM and Deputy PM. Shri Guruji said, “Let me point out that the Central Government is not fully informed by the Provincial Government of UP in the matter of the note alleged to have been sent to me. Neither myself, nor any of my former co-workers in UP ever received any such note. What must have happened to it, if at all it was dispatched, is a mystery to me! Long before the RSS was banned, I too had heard about a ‘chargesheet’, the UP Government was preparing against us. But months rolled by and it was not forthcoming. May I infer that much of so-called evidence in the possession of the Governments of UP and other provinces is as authentic as this mysterious note?”
Taking the bull by its horns, Shri Guruji pointedly asked, “If really the Central and Provincial Governments are in possession of incriminating evidence against the RSS or certain of its members, is it not right to expect at least a few successful prosecutions against the alleged wrong-doers? So far as I know all down these many months, the various Governments have taken recourse to the extraordinary special legislations and not proceeded against any person or a group of persons under the substantive penal law. The one case in District Muzaffarnagar—upon which the whole super structure of the so-called ‘chargesheet’ of the UP Government seems to have been rested—has been decided only in the last week. A look at the learned and well-balanced judgement is sufficient to prove the falsity of the ‘great deal of evidence’ against certain members of the RSS.”
Shri Guruji, in the same letter, puts the Government in the dock. He asserts: “In a Government by law, in a free State, which propounds and maintains the fundamental rights of citizens and their right to associate and peacefully propagate their views, we claim as a right to be placed in possession of the ‘evidence’, so that we may meet the charges. It is unfair for a civilized government, that ours is, to charge any person or body of persons with crimes of a serious character, without laying sufficient weighty evidence on the table and giving the accused a chance to vindicate his innocence. In the case of the RSS, I am constrained to state that it is most unfair to level charges against us, allow private individuals and parties to carry on a campaign of vilification against us under cover of the Government ban and at the same time gag us by use of Emergency Legislations like the Public Safety Acts. I fail to see how this course is calculated to do credit to the Government, which we want to love and hold in esteem.”
Mere Assertions
On November 8, Shri Guruji again wrote to Pandit Nehru and sought a personal interview with him with a view “to clear away the many misunderstandings about me and the work I stood for”. The receipt of these two letters was personally acknowledged by Panditji. In his reply, he again reiterates the same sentiments. He says: “In the course of the last year both the Central Government and the Provincial Governments have received a mass of information in regard to the objectives and activities of the RSS. This information does not fit in with what has been stated by you in this behalf. Indeed, it would appear that the declared objectives have little to do with the real ones and with the activities carried on in various forms and ways by people associated with the RSS. These real objectives appear to be completely opposed to the decisions of the Indian Parliament and the provisions of the proposed Constitution of India. The activities according to our information are anti-national and often subversive and violent. You would appreciate, therefore, that mere assertions to the contrary do not help very much.”
Pandit Nehru, also, diplomatically refused to meet Shri Guruji on the specious reason that as the matter was in the hands of the Home Ministry, “I do not think such an interview will serve any purpose.”
To this letter of November 10, Shri Guruji who was then in Delhi wrote a strong rejoinder. It is a long letter, which makes the following pertinent points: -
The Government is making an extravagant claim in stating that they have more knowledge of the RSS than all of us—its members put together.
For the last nine months, the RSS has not been functioning and all the prominent members were in jail for most of this period and not in a position to do any activity about which adverse information could be given with any trace of truth in it.
The charge of anti-national activities on the part of the RSS is a grave charge, and does not deserve to be made lightly. Reiterating that the Governments have information in their possession without allowing those against whom the charges are made to test it, to subject it to searching scrutiny means nothing.
Let it be appreciated by both the sides that mere assertions do not help.
There is nothing in the objectives of the RSS to which the Indian Parliament can take exception, nothing, which is contrary to the decisions of the Parliament so far published. As for being “opposed to the provisions of the proposed Constitution”, it would have been better if this had not been written by you—our Prime Minister. It is queer as to punish a man for attempted murder of an individual due to be born in a year or so.
There is no room in our work for the art which maintains discrepancies between the ‘professed’ and the ‘real’. Our professed objectives are real and our real objectives have always been given expression to.
This letter was written on November 10 and Shri Guruji again through a letter of November 13 pointed out to the Prime Minister “It is surprising to note that you say that the Home Ministry is solely responsible for deciding this question, whereas the Home Ministry came to a decision not independently but on the strength of your letter.”
With this letter, correspondence with Pandit Nehru came to a halt.