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Salutations to Guruji Golwalkar - IV

V SUNDARAM

        Unshakable faith, the antiseptic of the soul Shri Guruji was noted for his burning patriotism for Akhand Bharath and he had spoken strongly against the partition of India right from 1943. Responsibilities often gravitate to the person who can shoulder them. Many people today may not be aware of the fact how Shri Guruji was deputed by Sardar Patel on a political mission in a special plane to Srinagar to meet Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu & Kashmir and the stellar role he played in the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union after independence.

        This is indeed an interesting story about the historic role played by Shri Guruji as a responsible and patriotic citizen at a crucial time in our national history.

        Soon after independence, the most serious challenge to the freedom and integrity of independent Bharath was posed in Kashmir. The British government declaration of 3 June 1947 left the princely rulers of independent Bharath to join either Bharath or Pakistan or remain independent.

        Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir, was in an awful fix. He was a devout and patriotic Hindu and could not think of joining Pakistan. In view of the marked Muslim majority in the State, he was a little hesitant. Lord Mountbatten flew to Kashmir in the third week of June, 1947 in a bid persuade the Maharaja to join Pakistan. The Maharaja resisted the pressure. R C Kak, the then Prime Minister of Kashmir, however, advised Maharaja Hari Singh to remain independent. Amidst these conflicting pulls, the Sangh leaders in the State of Jammu & Kashmir began exerting every possible influence to persuade the Maharaja to declare his accession to Bharath before the deadline of 15 August, 1947.
 
       The State Sanghachalak of the R S S, Pundit Prem Nath Dogra, submitted several petitions and followed them up with personal interviews with the Maharaja. The Sangh also persuaded several social, political and cultural organisations in the State to pass resolutions urging the Maharaja to join Bharath without delay. At the same time, Shri Badridas, Sanghachalak of Punjab, whom the Maharaja held in high esteem, rushed to Srinagar to meet and advise him.

        However, forces inimical to Bharath would not let Maharaja Hari Singh have his way.

        When 14 August, 1947 (one day prior to independence) came, the postal authorities in Srinagar hoisted the Pakistani flag in their office, because the post offices in the State came under Sialkot Circle which was to become part of Pakistan from that day. Promptly, the Sangh Swayamsevaks and sympathisers saw to it that the postal authorities pulled down the Pakistani flag.

        On the next day, 15 August 1947, the Indian tricolour flew over most of the houses and shops in Kashmir. The tricolour had been prepared in thousands in the Sangh Karyalaya in Srinagar and distributed to the people. Meanwhile, the pro-Pakistani Muslim elements in Kashmir intensified their propaganda to pressurise the Maharaja to join Pakistan. 

From left to right: Shri Bhai Dyal Sait,
Sanghachalak of Bombay, Guruji, and Shri
Khanchand Gopaldas, Sanghachalak of
Sindh before partition.
        Large-scale smuggling of arms into the State to foment internal rebellion started taking place from the month of August 1947. At the diplomatic level at the Centre, too, Sangh had made certain strategic moves in the crucial mid-October days in 1948.

        Sardar Vallabhai Patel, knowing the mind of Maharaja Hari Singh, had pitched upon Shri Guruji to talk to the Maharaja. Patel knew that Shri Guruji commanded the implicit and full confidence of the Maharaja.

        At the instance of Sardar Patel, Shri Guruji flew to Srinagar on 17 October, 1947. He explained to the Maharaja, the futility of entertaining any idea of retaining Kashmir as an independent Kingdom, and advised him to join Bharath straightaway. Consequently, the Maharaja expressed his readiness to sign the instrument of accession to Bharath.

        Shri Guruji returned to New Delhi on 19 October, 1947 and reported to Sardar Patel about the Maharaja's readiness to accede to Bharath. Unfortunately there was a sudden and massive invasion of Kashmir on 23 October, 1947 by Pakistani tribesmen which was instigated by the government of Pakistan and the Maharaja appealed to government of India for help, agreeing to the accession of the State to Bharath and the flying of Indian troops to save Kashmir - all these historic events following in lightning succession.

        Within the city of Jammu itself, the local Muslims numbering about 20,000 were in a rebellious mood. The fate of Jammu city and the entire countryside in Jammu, with no troops on hand, was in a precarious state.

        The young men of Sangh rose to the occasion. They faced the pro-Pakistani Muslim elements inside and repulsed their repeated attacks and shattered their designs. But for the Swayamksevaks' valiant efforts, Jammu could never have been saved; and without Jammu, there was not the ghost of a chance to save Srinagar even by Indian forces. This inspiration to defend our motherland against the Pakistani marauders was provided by the clarion call of Shri Guruji to all the Swayamsevaks and not by the indecisive government of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

        On the contrary, it was Pandit Nehru who stopped the Indian Army from driving out the Pakistani invaders from a portion of Kashmir by taking the matter to the United Nations. Nehru took this disastrous and abrupt decision against the advice of Major General Kulwant Singh, Corps Commander, General Thimmiah and General Cariappa of the Indian Army. He did not trust his countrymen. He had greater faith in the machinations of Lord Mountbatten and his British officers. The country is still paying the price for that inexcusable political blunder.

        Against this background, it will be clear that Shri Guruji was no less patriotic than either Nehru or Patel or for that matter any Congress leader of that time. Shri Guruji had a good equation with Mahatma Gandhi who addressed the RSS Swayamsevaks at Bhangi Colony in New Delhi on 16 September, 1947 where they were posted to keep guard at various points.

        At that point of time, Shri Guruji was not aware of the capacity of the Congress party for infidelity and intrigue. The Nehru government, in a most uncivilised way, ordered the arrest of Shri Guruji on 1 February, 1948 and charged him with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. To crown it further, the same mindless and soulless government withdrew the charge of conspiracy for assassination against Shri Guruji and issued a new ordinance ordering his internment under the National Security Act on 7 February, 1948.

        On 6 August, 1948 Shri Guruji was released subject to certain restrictions placed on his activity. Shri Guruji immediately wrote to Nehru and Patel protesting against his unwarranted and illegal detention without assigning any reasons. He also jokingly commented about the restrictions placed on him by saying: 'I have been transferred from a smaller jail to a bigger one! Only my prison walls have been extended'. He also wrote another strong letter to Nehru in October 1948 requesting him to lift the ban on the RSS.

        He wrote: 'It is now almost eight months and nothing can remain to be investigated into against me or the RSS. I am sure you are convinced that the allegations against the RSS have been found to be without foundation in facts. It is therefore a case for simple justice, which we have a right to expect from a government which we have always considered our own.'

        Sardar Patel sent a reply to Shri Guruji stating 'there can be no doubt that the RSS did service to Hindu society. In the areas where there was the need for help and organisation the young men of the RSS protected women and children and strove much for their sake. I am strongly convinced that the RSS men can carry on their patriotic endeavour only by joining the Congress and not by keeping separate or opposing'.

        At the same time, Nehru wrote to Shri Guruji stating that the RSS was a communal and anti-national organisation. He indirectly seemed to share the view of Patel that the RSS should merge with the Congress.

        Was it not a moment of great national disgrace that the Prime Minister Nehru and the Deputy Prime Minister of independent India Patel, whose government had baselessly charged Shri Guruji with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and arrested him on 1 February, 1948 and detained him illegally for six months till 6 August, 1948, should now somersault and invite Shri Guruji to join the Congress party in October 1948(!) even while the trial against Nathuram Godse was still on and he was to be hanged only in November 1949? Were they not guilty of perfidy and travesty of truth? Was it not a sordid act of great national betrayal by both Nehru and Patel? Nathuram Godse only liquidated the body of Mahatma Gandhi. Nehru and Patel spiritually destroyed Mahatma Gandhi and all that he represented for ever. 'Secular Spiritual Baptism' even at that time perhaps meant joining only the Congress party and no other political party!

        On 13 October, 1948 all restrictions on Shri Guruji's activities were unilaterally removed. Shri Guruji went to New Delhi and met Sardar Patel on 23 October, 1948. Sardar Patel insisted that the RSS should merge with the Congress.

        Shri Guruji gave him a firm 'no' stating that the RSS was a cultural organisation and not a political party. Emotionally upset by Shri Guruji's spirited reply, Sardar Patel spoke imperiously to Shri Guruji stating that no more discussions were possible and that he could go back to Nagpur. Sardar Patel failed to realise that he was dealing with a Maharishi and not with a Congress mercenary who would sell his soul for a mess of pottage. Unsurpassed courage of conviction was the footstool of the virtues upon which he stood. Shri Guruji then moved like a hurricane to show his 'Vishwaroopa' form, even as Lord Krishna did to Arjuna at Kurukshetra, to both Nehru and Patel and indeed the country.

        (To be continued...)
        (The writer is a retired IAS officer)
        e-mail the writer at vsundaram@newstodaynet.com

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