The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Tuesday backed the gau rakshaks against the backdrop of a series of attacks on minorities and Dalits by the self-styled cow protectors, and dismissed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that most of these vigilantes were anti-socials.
Addressing the swayamsevaks on the occasion of Vijaydashami celebrations to mark the organization’s foundation day in Nagpur, the Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat asserted that gau rakshaks (cow protectors) were good people, who were merely upholding the law of the land that calls for protection of animals from cruelty.
The RSS is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP.
“There are some people who are dedicated to cow protection, it is part of directive principles of state policy,” he said, adding their drive would “continue and gather momentum.”
Amid the spate of attacks, particularly in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, on Dalits and minorities, allegedly in the name of cow protection, Modi in his address to mark the second anniversary of his government’s MyGov initiative in August said most of so called protectors were anti-social elements masquerading as gau rakshaks.
“If you have to shoot, shoot me, but not my Dalit brothers. This game should stop, ” Modi said in August taking on those who have been attacking, even killing Dalits, in the name of cow protection.
The attacks stoked Dalit anger and upset BJP’s efforts to attract Dalit votes in the run up to crucial elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
In sharp contrast to prime minister’s stance on the vigilante groups, the RSS chief hailed their actions, saying in spite of “grave provocation”, the “law-abiding groups” had been carrying out their activities within the purview of the law and would continue to do so.
Alluding to Modi’s remark, Bhagwat further said the government should not equate the law-abiding citizens with anti-social elements.
“Gau-rakshaks cannot be compared with those undesirable elements who are raking up the issue of cow –slaughter or spreading unfounded rumours about slaughter. The latter are busy serving their narrow personal or political ends. Nevertheless, the sacred mission of the gau-sevaks would continue and gather momentum,” he said.
The RSS was launched in September 1925 by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and its foundation day is celebrated annually on Dussehra.
The new dress code in the RSS came into effect on Tuesday, the foundation day of the organisation, with its trademark khaki shorts being replaced with brown trousers. Here is a look at the changes in the organisation’s uniform in the past 90 years.
- 1925 - Khakhi shirt and shorts with a black cap and military-style, ankle length black boots
- 1939 -
Khakhi shirt replaced with white shirt
- 1974 - Military-style boots replaced with black shoes
- 2010 - Black leather belt replaced with synthetic black belt
- 2016 - Khakhi shorts replaced with brown coloured trousers and socks
- 2016 - Brown sweater introduced
Praising the Modi government and the armed forces for the recent surgical strikes on the terror groups in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the RSS chief said that the Indian army gave a “befitting message” to the neighbouring country by carrying out the strike.
The RSS supremo said that those triggering unrest in Kashmir got a message that there was a limit to tolerance. “There should be nothing lacking when it comes to securing our borders,” he added.
Reiterating the RSS stand on Kashmir issue, he said that the entire Kashmir is the integral part of India, including Mirpur, Muzaffarabad and Gilgit-Baltistan.
“We all know that the outrage in Kashmir is engineered by the forces across the border,” he pointed out.
Lauding the government for its diplomatic initiatives to isolate Pakistan, Bhagwat also stressed the need to urgently promote, consolidate and establish nationalistic activities and forces in the less-disturbed areas of the state.
“Major areas of Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh are less disturbed and the situation in these areas is well under control,” he pointed out.
“To rein in the internal and external disruptive forces in the disturbed areas, it is necessary for the Centre and the state government to work in tandem, adopting a common policy, with a definite goal,” he advised.
Stating that protests in Kashmir had died down, the RSS chief said, there was a need to promote nationalism in the state, and called for a stern action against the people who instigate unrest in the valley.