After months of denial of the involvement of any top RSS functionary in terror-related activity, the sangh parivar was on Saturday forced into defensive mode after Indresh Kumar, a member of the central executive committee of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh figured in the charge sheet filed by the Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad in court in the 2007 Ajmer dargah blast case.
Speaking as if in unison, the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bharatiya Janata Party and Mr. Kumar himself lost no time decrying a “political conspiracy” to “defame nationalist forces.”
The first to react was RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav: “Indreshji is not an accused in the charge sheet filed by the Rajasthan ATS; his name is mentioned as a person allegedly present at a meeting on October 31, 2005, and we will challenge this.”
He said the RSS had earlier made its position clear. “Whoever is involved in terror-related activities must be fully investigated, and we will cooperate with such investigations, as we have been doing. We will not come in the way of any investigation.”
Asked what action the RSS would take if Mr. Kumar was found deeply involved, he said he could not respond to “hypothetical questions.”
Those close to the Sangh admit that while it has been comparatively easy for the organisation to distance itself from others such as Devender Gupta and Lokesh Sharma (both from the RSS stables), accused by the ATS of involvement in terror activity, it would be difficult to evade any responsibility for the actions of Mr. Kumar, who is on the top rung of the hierarchy. It now remains to be seen whether he will participate in the RSS-convened sangh parivar Karyakari Samiti meeting beginning in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, on October 28.
Mr. Ram Madhav told The Hindu that the RSS would issue a formal statement later in the evening, but none came through. Instead, a seven-line personal statement was issued by Mr. Kumar, who talked of a “well-planned conspiracy” against him and alleged that the ATS had “fabricated a baseless story.”
Asked on the phone whether he was present at the October 31, 2005 meeting mentioned in the charge sheet, Mr. Kumar said: “I have already said it is a political conspiracy, and the story against me is fabricated.” The Centre had “misused” senior officers of investigation agencies to “frame” him. He also charged the government with using the media to take the issue to the “people's court,” and said he would fight his battle for justice in the people's court as well as the legal court.
The BJP was more or less silent. Party president Nitin Gadkari did not respond, and calls to chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad and senior leader Arun Jaitley did not yield any result, as they were away campaigning in Bihar. A junior spokesperson here dismissed the charge sheet as a “political conspiracy” to defame “nationalist forces.”
Pravin Togadia of the VHP said it was Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram's attempt to justify his “saffron terrorism” remark. Nobody had ever raised a finger against the RSS' “nationalist” and “patriotic” credentials. When it was pointed out that India's first Home Minister, Vallabhai Patel, arrested the then RSS chief on suspicion of involvement in the murder of the Mahatma, Mr. Togadia said: “Sardar Patel had done it at the instance of Jawaharlal Nehru, and the RSS was acquitted of the charge.”