Earlier this week, “Anhad” (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), organised a day long convention titled “Sangh Terror and Failures of Justice” that the Sangh supporters countered as a “sustained misinformation” campaign against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS, widely regarded as the parent organisation of the ruling BJP underwent heavy criticism at the forum for fomenting alleged “Hindu terror” at the conference, which was organised by leftist and pro-Congress thinkers in the capital. The conference suggested the need to have a data resource of various incidents and communal activities allegedly facilitated by the Sangh.

Advaita Kala, a columnist and screenwriter, who is currently writing a book on the RSS, said, “It is utter hypocrisy to use a term like ‘Sangh terror’ when in reality since January we have witnessed deaths of several right-wing people. Nobody seems to be bothered by the violence that is being perpetrated against the swayamsevaks. There is no word about the conference that was organised at the same venue about the ‘redtrocity’ against the RSS people. Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi and most recently in Ghaziabad, various RSS workers were murdered in the open but that is not deemed to be terror. To talk about ‘Sangh terror’ would mean to acknowledge something doesn’t even exist. This clearly seems like a sustained misinformation campaign.”

The conference was attended by writer and journalist Om Thanvi, the defence lawyer of Muslims accused in the 2006 Mumbai train blasts, Abdul Wahab Khan, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad, RJD leader Manoj Jha, Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU), president Kanhaiya Kumar, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and JNUSU vice-president Shehla Rashid among others. The founding member of Anhad, Shabnam Hashmi, sister of the late activist Safdar Hashmi, said, “After (special prosecutor) Rohini Salian took a bold step to speak about the pressure she was facing from NIA (National Investigation Agency) to go easy on ‘Sangh terror’, we decided to talk about RSS’ terror on a public platform.”

Advaita Kala, said, “If there is legitimate concern then India is a democratic country that has a judiciary system. If there are real people who have been victimised then they can go to court anytime.” Some Sangh supporters, who attended the conference, requesting anonymity said, “When Kanhaiya Kumar’s agitation clouded all the news channels, a 23-year-old swayamsevak was hacked to death in Kerala in front of his mother, who too lost one of her arms in the violence. Their only mistake was that they were RSS aligned. The attack was carried out by men from the CPI (M), but no media bothered to cover it. This conference is nothing but an anti-Modi narrative. Nobody from the RSS would be willing to respond about this conference because RSS doesn’t go about reacting on things that don’t matter.”

Writer and journalist Om Thanvi said at the conference, “Our investigation agencies have failed to deliver justice. The anti-terror laws have been largely exploited. From 2007 to 2008 various attacks like the Samjhauta Express, Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid, Ajmer dargah and Malegaon attacks, the role of investigation agencies has been continuously questioned. What has made people react the most is the injustice done to the legacy of Hemant Karkare, the chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, who was the first to find links of ‘Hindutva terror’ that led to the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur. Karkare died fighting in the 2008 November Mumbai attacks. In May this year the NIA gave a clean chit to Pragya Thakur, questioning the integrity of an officer like Karkare whose valour and commitment was well-known across the department.”

Seshadari Chari, a veteran swayamsevak said, “These people say that terrorism has no religion but divide terror into Hindu terrorism and Islamic terrorism. Hemant Karkare was a good officer, but he only did what the government told him to do. I have heard that he too once had raised objections about there being insufficient evidence. Karkare gave up his life fighting terror. He is not alive anymore so it won’t be right to say too much about a deceased man.”

Kanhaiya Kumar said, “RSS does not react to what is going around, it singularly focuses on its goals and work on them. Even if BJP will not be in power tomorrow, RSS will still continue to work. If you look at their social work, you will see how much effort their volunteers put. They do great work on the ground. That is why people join RSS. But then these people are told that they need to be prepared to fight against the minorities. Blinded by their good work, the supporters of Sangh Parivar find themselves incapable to look beyond the double-nature of the organisation. That is how RSS operates.”

Chari countered, “RSS does not give out affiliations to any organisation. There is no such organisation named as Sangh Parivar. There is only RSS that aims for man making and nation building.”

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