- M. G. Vaidya
It is ironical but true that RSS, the foremost organisation of Hindus in Hindustan that is Bharat, was thrice banned by the government—not an alien government, but by our own government. Of the three bans, the first, imposed on February 4, 1948, was the severest and the fiercest because, it was under the guise of the alleged involvement of the RSS in the murder of one of the greatest men in recent history, I mean Mahatma Gandhi. A thoughtless bullet from a pistol by Nathuram Godse killed the Mahatma on January 30, 1948, and the then government got a God-given opportunity to malign, abuse and try to destroy the patriotic organisation. Now it can be said from the hindsight that if the Mahatma were not killed by a fanatic Hindu, even then the government would have invented some or the other excuse to ban the RSS, because the government could not suffer the immense popularity of the RSS, which it gained because of its selfless valiant work in protecting, defending and later on rehabilitating the hapless Hindu refugees from Pakistan. After the Congress accepted the partition of the country, the Hindus living in that part, that had become Pakistan, were brutally hounded out of their homes by the majority Muslim community, aided and abetted by the Muslim army and the Muslim police at the behest of the then Pakistan government. It was a veritable holocaust where neither children nor women were spared. Women were raped, disfigured and killed. Children were pierced by the points of the spears and thrown into the air like a football. The old and the young were mercilessly massacred. Trains loaded with the dead bodies arrived in our country. It was in those critical times, the RSS bravely entered the inferno, saved the life and honour of as many people as possible, defended and protected our mothers and sisters from the ferocious attacks of the Muslims, helped them come to Bharat and then employed its full strength for their rehabilitation. The RSS, therefore, came to be regarded as the sole saviour of the Hindus, which included the Sikhs also. Naturally, the RSS became immensely popular.
The Congress government did not anticipate that such a huge calamity would befall the Hindu population in Pakistan. They forgot the lessons of a thousand-year-old history. They simpletonly thought that, as the demand for a separate Muslim State was conceded, there would be all peace and goodwill. They did not take into account the nature of the Muslim psyche in dealing with the people who do not belong to their faith, whom they prefer to call kafirs, who, they think, are fit to be killed, tortured, abused and dishonoured. Therefore, they did not conceive of any plan or any arrangement to face the inevitable eventuality. Naturally, the people held the Congress responsible for this calamity. The people also felt that they were betrayed by the Congress leadership. In 1946 elections to the Central Assembly, the Congress plank of propaganda was United India—Akhand Bharat—while that of the Muslim League was divided India, i.e. Pakistan. The Congress got a huge majority in the Hindu-majority provinces, but the Muslim League did not get such support in the Muslim-majority provinces. But, surprisingly, instead of taking advantage of this situation and instead of consolidating the anti-partition forces, the Congress meekly caved in and accepted the partition. This was a blatant betrayal, which resulted in the killing and uprootment of enormous number of Hindu people. The number of innocent people killed in those frightful few months was larger than that of those who were killed in the six-year-long Second World War.
Congress in Jitters
The RSS grew, both in quantity and in prestige. There was all praise for its valour, courage and sacrifice. The Congress became panicky and jittery. In fact, RSS was no political rival of the Congress. It had no political ambitions. But the Congress thought otherwise. A strong section of its leadership, which had leftist leanings, began to blame RSS for whatever little reaction manifested against the Muslims. A general feeling among Hindus was that the Muslims in India were responsible for the partition of the country and consequent tragic happenings. There was a legitimate reason for this, because, 85 per cent of Muslims in Hindu-majority provinces had voted for the Muslim League in reserved constituencies for Muslims. But more than this, the Congress leadership saw the RSS as its rival and planned to curb its influence. A propaganda blitz was manufactured. A parliamentary secretary in the then U.P. government published a booklet, titled RSS and the Nazi Technique. The then Bombay government, led by the Congress party, without any legitimate reason, banned a proposed RSS rally in Chinchwad near Pune. The leftists in the Congress vociferously demanded a ban on the RSS. Pandit Nehru, the then Prime Minister, believed in all this vicious canard. So much so that on January 29, 1948, that is just a day before the murder of the Mahatma, he thundered in Amritsar that he would see that the RSS is totally uprooted from the face of India. However, there was a section in the Congress that saw through this game of the leftists. Sardar Patel represented this section. On January 7, 1948, in a speech in Lucknow (U.P.) he said, “In the Congress those who are in power feel that by virtue of their authority they will be able to crush the RSS. But you cannot crush an organisation by using the danda. The danda is meant for the thieves and dacoits. After all, the RSS men are not thieves and dacoits. They are patriots who love their country.” But the murder of the Mahatma, that too, by a person who claimed to be a staunch Hindu and had been an active member of the Hindu Mahasabha, silenced these sane voices in the Congress.
The murder of Mahatma Gandhi was committed on January 30. The RSS was banned on February 4. Shri Guruji was arrested on the midnight of February 1. You will be astonished to note that Shri Guruji was arrested under Article 302 of the IPC, as if he himself had gone to Delhi and put bullets into the body of the Mahatma. The government realised the utter foolishness of its action and within 24 hours it was transformed under a Preventive Detention Law. Shri Guruji was not alone to be arrested. Thousands of RSS workers and office-bearers throughout the country were put behind the bars. More than twenty thousand houses of RSS activists were searched to find out the traces of the alleged conspiracy. But not an iota of proof was found. In the over-zealous actions of the Police, many a ridiculous event occurred. The 14th January, Makar Samkramana Utsav had passed. In Maharashtra, on this occasion a sweet mixture of sesame grains (til) and jaggary is distributed with a pleasant invocation: “Please accept this sweet and speak sweet.” The Marathi word for sweet is ‘goda’ (sweet). In one search endeavour, a police party found a poem, which contained a line 'til-gul ghyaa goda-goda bola'—meaning please accept this sweet of sesame and jaggary. The police pounced on the word ‘godase’ and thinking that the poem was in praise of Nathuram Godse, they arrested that person. Later on, he was released.
In a few weeks time, the conspiracy was unearthed. Those involved in it were arrested. Charges of conspiracy and murder were framed against them and the matter went to the Court of Law. Shri Guruji was released after six months. Other workers too were released. But the ban on the RSS was not lifted, for the simple reason that it was not imposed to lift it. The purpose behind it was to crush the RSS, to uproot it from the soil of the country.