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A benevolent face of Muslims opposed to terrorism could rise from India: RSS

Sangh leader Alok Kumar credits the coexistence of Hindus and Muslims in India for the minority community’s disinclination towards fundamentalism.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2017 12:49 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Muslims hold placards in New Delhi as they shout slogans to condemn Thursday's suicide bombing at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Pakistan.
Muslims hold placards in New Delhi as they shout slogans to condemn Thursday's suicide bombing at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in southern Pakistan.(PTI)

A “benevolent face” of Muslims that is opposed to “Islamist terrorism” could emerge from India, a senior functionary of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) said on Friday.

Alok Kumar, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Delhi unit, dismissed fears that the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the expansion of the Sangh in the country did not bode well for the minority community.

He said the RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological parent, was with the “nationalist Muslims” in India.

In what appears to be an attempt by the Sangh to reach out to the minority community, Kumar said there was a possibility that the Indian Muslims could be the “benevolent face of Islam’s universal brotherhood against terror”.

Addressing mediapersons at a press conference, Kumar credited the coexistence of Hindus and Muslims in India for the minority community’s disinclination towards fundamentalism.

He said there was a growing unease among Muslims in India about terror attacks, the rise of the orthodox Wahabis and the targeting of Sufi sects.

Kumar referred to the February terror attack at the Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Pakistan’s Sindh province by Islamic State that left over 75 people dead, as an example of growing fanaticism.

“After the blast, we went to the shrine of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (a Sufi saint whose shrine is in Delhi’s Mehrauli) to express our condolences. During our discussion with the people there, we realised there is a lot of unrest among the Muslims over the attacks,” Kumar said.

Reaching out

Accused of pursuing anti-minority politics, the Sangh appeared to be making overtures towards the Muslims, especially the Sufi sect.

Its Muslim Rashtriya Manch has been working with the community to build bridges and has off late been pushing for an end to the practice of ‘triple talaq’ and implementation of the common civil code.

“In India, there are many inter-religious influences that can be seen at the dargahs. They offer the chadar, but also offer prasad, they sing qawalis—all of which are dismissed as idol worship by the Wahabis,” he said.

On the issue of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, which has been a cause of friction between the Hindus and Muslims for decades, he said the RSS will go with the decision taken by the Dharam Sansad.

“Ram Mandir issue is not an RSS movement. It is led by the saints,” he said.

The Dharma Sansad or religious parliament was organised by former VHP chief Ashok Singhal with religious men and pontiffs, to address issues pertaining to the majority community.