Dalits in Punjab question RSS ‘silence’ over attacks on community in Gujarat
Jalandhar(Kusum Arora) – The recent move of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) to reach out to the dalit deras and its leaders in Punjab, instead of gaining momentum, has backfired with followers questioning rising attacks on dalits in Gujarat. Dalit leaders in doaba belt of Punjab, which comprises of over 40 percent of its population, were rather questioning the ‘double standards’ of RSS. The dalits claimed that the RSS was appeasing dalit religious leaders by inviting to its programmes in Punjab but turning a mute spectator in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state Gujarat.Recently, a dalit Sant Purshottam Das from Phagwara attended the foundation day programme of RSS, which was strongly objected by the Ravidassia community. It is pertinent to mention here that the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has recently invited Sant Nirmal Das, the head of influential Sant Pritam Dass Dera Babe Jaure in Jalandhar as chief guest for the foundation day programme of RSS on September 30 at its headquarters in Nagpur (Maharastra).Sant Nirmal Das heads Sri Guru Ravidas Sadhu Sampradaye Society Punjab, which covers 300 dalit deras in the state. He was about to leave for the RSS programme from Delhi, when he changed his decision at the eleventh hour. “When Sant Nirmal Das was invited, dalits across the globe strongly opposed his move. Even a section of other dera heads also questioned the rationale behind joining RSS foundation programme”, said a dalit dera confidante. Eminent dalit literature writer and social thinker Des Raj Kali said, “It is an attempt of RSS to recognize and symbolically prove that the dalits were supporting them. However, the Ravidassia community is strongly opposed to the RSS ideology.”Kali also said that the spate in attacks on dalits in Gujarat was directly linked to the upcoming assembly elections in the state. “The attacks on dalits by upper caste people in Gujarat were an attempt to divide ethnic identity of the dalits”, he added. Santosh Kumari, the state president of Bhartiya Republican Party, which is headed by the grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar said, “The hidden agenda of dalits is to make them a part of Hinduism. Dalits follow Sri Guru Granth Sahib but RSS is trying to push them towards ‘idol worship’, a Hindu religion concept and kill their thought process. Even BJP leaders keep visiting dalit deras but the RSS has always been against dalits.”Another dalit leader from BSP Balwinder Kumar also questioned the RSS motive behind attacking dalits in Gujarat but appeasing them in Punjab. “This exposes the double standards of RSS, which has been working against the ideology of Dr BR Ambedkar. Wherever RSS leaders were in power, dalits and minorities have been hounded. On the other hand, wherever RSS was not in power like Punjab, they were appeasing them to join their ideology”, he said. Notably, the dalits, particularly the Ravidassia Sikh community was against RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, as he has been hinting to bring a change in reservation policy in the country.
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