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Uri response: Is RSS getting indecisive on Pak policy

UriTerrorAttack Updated: Sep 20, 2016 10:51 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Uri Attack

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is refraining from dictating the government’s repose to Sunday’s Uri attack. (PTI)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is refraining from dictating the government’s repose to Sunday’s Uri attack . As the ideological fount of the BJP, the Sangh has suggested delinking Kashmir from the Uri aggression and strategising a long-term plan to secure India from frequent attacks perpetrated by Pakistan-sponsored terror groups, but is not spelling out what it expects from the Centre.

Senior RSS functionaries, who spoke to HT on condition of anonymity, asserted that the Sangh has conveyed its support to the Centre, and the message to the cadre is to throw their weight behind the government’s decision — whatever that may be.

While the RSS says it has left it to the government to take a call, a vacillation within the Sangh on the kind of action is causing an indistinct response.

Hardline affiliates such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have called for storming across the LoC to destroy terror camps operating from Pakistani soil and for reclaiming Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Within the Sangh too, there are voices underscoring the need to devise a plan outside the confines of diplomacy.

“Time is ripe to transform words in to action,” said RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha. “Time of dialogue and diplomacy is over. India must give Pakistan a lesson…sometimes peace is born from the barrels of guns.”

For the RSS, it is a difficult position to be in. While it is conscious of not wanting to be seen as a “war monger” by pushing the pedal on military response, it also does not want to be perceived as an outfit that has “gone soft” on Pakistan-sponsored terror.

Hours after Sunday’s pre-dawn ambush that left 18 soldiers dead near the town of Uri in Baramulla district, RSS second-in-command Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi called for “firm and conclusive” dealing with “terrorists, their masters and supporters”, but since then the Sangh has been largely silent.

Has the Sangh, which took a forceful stand against terror attacks during the UPA rule, toned down its rhetoric?

“There is a feeling by and large that war should not be our first response,” a functionary said. “The Sangh is confident that the government strategists will know how to give a befitting reply. But what we have conveyed is the need for a sustained plan instead of knee-jerk reactions.”

The Sangh’s stance on response to Uri notwithstanding, there has been a noticeable wavering in its position on Pakistan.

For instance, after a Sangh-BJP coordination meeting last year, RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale told reporters that India should continue attempting to have good relations with Pakistan even in the face of continued attacks on the border.

“Even Kauravas and Pandavas (in the epic Mahabharata) were brothers,” . One has to do everything (for better relations).”

This January, Hosable was cautioning India over its engagement with Pakistan. Speaking in the capital city at the launch of a journal on Pakistan, he called it a rogue state, and accused that country of not reciprocating India’s overtures for peace.

In between came hard-hitting statements from RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat, who declared that Pakistan adopted anti-India policies and openly challenged the country’s sovereignty.

In the face of its own indecisive Pakistan policy, is the Sangh at ease with the BJP-led NDA government’s policy towards the neighbour?

RSS functionaries insist there is no disagreement.

“It is for the first time that the international leadership has taken cognisance of Pakistan’s offensive against India,” said a senior functionary. “From inviting SAARC leaders to the oath-taking ceremony, which was a masterstroke to drawing attention to Baluchistan that made the world take note, the NDA government has identified the disha (direction).”

Read | What next? Here’s how India can respond to the Uri terror attack