Educational institutions run by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) for Northeastern students are rarely in the news. Most of these schools are out of bounds for outsiders. About 40 km from Varanasi, in the Chunar region of Mirzapur district, the Surabhi Shodh Sansthan runs five hostel-cum schools for Northeastern students - the Sri Radha Krishna Vanvashi Chhatravas for boys and the Sri Radha Krishna Vanvashi Kanya Chhatravas.
Surya Kant Jalan, a textile trader of Uttar Pradesh who owns a chain of wholesale and retail textile stores and whose family has old ties with the VHP and the RSS, runs the five hostels in Chunar. The 567 students at the hostels - 308 of them are from the Northeast - are being schooled until class 12 at the Hanuman Prasad Poddar Higher Secondary school (English medium) and Seth Kishori Lal Jalan high secondary school (Hindi medium).
Both those schools are run by the Jalans. Along with regular education, the students are also trained in Indian classical music - both instrumental and vocal. Incidentally, the flute is a favourite of most Northeastern students.
Most of the 308 students are from Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Meghalaya.110 of them are girls. Five students from Nepal also study here. The pro-Hindutva institution also receives students from Vanvasi Kalyan Ashrams spread across the Northeast. Working to check the increasing influence of Christian missionaries in the Northeast, the RSS has found an easy answer in the youth of those states.
RSS ideologues like KN Govindacharya often visit. However, the institution denies any direct interaction between RSS/VHP leaders and students at the five hostels. The sprawling campus of the Sri Radha Krishna Vanvashi Chhatravas is often lent out to the RSS to conduct its programmes. The institute, however, claims that these functions have nothing to do with the students, who never attend such functions. The institution also makes arrangements for those students who want to pursue higher education.
"We have students from 11 states, including the Northeast, who belong to 48 different tribes and speak 52 different languages," said Harishji (need his last name), who is in charge of the hostels.
"We also make sure that students from the Northeast are not cut off from their culture and traditional values," he added.
The institution charges an annual fee of Rs3000 from students. But fees are completely waived for economically weaker students.