Minority community leaders urge RSS chief to speak more against attacks on Muslims

There is virtually no let-up in the constant barrage of hate speech, calls for genocide and acts of violence against Muslims, they say in a letter to Mohan Bhagwat

Updated - March 27, 2023 09:37 pm IST

Published - March 27, 2023 08:59 pm IST - New Delhi

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat. File.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat. File. | Photo Credit: PTI

In a letter to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat, prominent Muslim leaders and intellectuals, who are engaged in a dialogue with the organisation to bridge the communication gap between the minority community and the RSS, said there was virtually no let-up in the constant barrage of hate speech, calls for genocide and acts of violence against Muslims.

The group urged Mr. Bhagwat, the Union government and the State governments to “speak more” condemning the cases of attacks on Muslims.

Among the representatives of the minority community were former Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung, former Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi, former Aligarh Muslim University Vice-Chancellor Lieutenant-General Zameer Uddin Shah (retd), Rashtriya Lok Dal national vice-president Shahid Siddiqui and businessman Saeed Shervani.

Detailing the urgency of writing to Mr. Bhagwat, who has denied a meeting with the group before June citing previous commitments, the members pointed out the recent ‘anti-Muslim’ marches in Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, which, they claimed, were full of hate and included calls for boycott of Muslim businesses. In Maharashtra, the hate marches continued for months, they said in the letter dated March 23.

There are reports that a right-wing organisation, Hindu Jan Aakrosh Morcha, has held 50 rallies in Maharashtra since November 2022.

The rallies, which attracted a large number of people, saw speeches warning Hindus about “Love Jihad”, “Land Jihad” and conversion, and also called for boycott of Muslims traders and businesses. This came despite Supreme Court orders against hate speech.

The members of the minority community maintained that these rallies and speeches happened in the presence of police and that there was no action. “Even if there is action, it’s perfunctory and people are let off with ease. This is causing anguish and immense consternation among Muslims,” they said in the letter.

The letter further mentioned about the group’s meeting with Mr. Bhagwat in August 2022 after which the two sides decided to hold continuous dialogue.

The Hindu, in its edition of September 21, 2022, reported that in their last close-door meeting with Mr. Bhagwat, the RSS chief asked the members to clear their stand on cow slaughter. He also questioned the use of terms such as kafir (non-believer) and jihad’ (holy war) against Hindus and suggested that they be avoided. At the same meeting, the members of the group shared the pain of being dubbed as deshdrohis (anti-national) for activities that are simply part of freedom of expression.

After the meeting, Mr. Bhagwat asked RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal and senior leaders Indresh Kumar and Ram Lal to take forward the discussion. The RSS delegation and the members of the group held a follow-up meeting in January in which concerns and expectations of both sides were discussed.

The group maintained that they had met various influential Muslim leaders and groups, including the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Firangi Mahal, and all of them appreciated the efforts and idea of reaching out to the RSS for dialogue.

“Today, there is a sense of dismay and a question on the usefulness of our efforts,” they said in the letter.

Underlining the RSS’s credibility and desire for nation building, the group quoted Mr. Bhagwat telling them that “nation building will not be possible if we do not take along all sections, including the minorities that constitute 20% of India”.

“Therefore, under the circumstances, it is absolutely imperative that voices such as yours, as indeed from senior echelons of the Sangh, are heard loud and clear to condemn such acts and to clear our country of communal discord and speak of love and harmony,” the letter added.

The group maintained that whenever Mr. Bhagwat had spoken on attacks on minorities, the impact was noticed. The members urged the RSS chief to speak more. They also urged the Union government and the State governments to take the strictest possible action against those who seem committed to harm India through discord.

“India is positioning itself among the great nations of the world. We cannot simply let internal discord — in any form — come in the way now. We, as a group, are continuing our efforts and expanding our outreach to other influential sections of society to get them to join in this endeavour,” they said.

The Hindu reached out to the RSS spokesperson for a comment, but there was no response.

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