The Maharashtra government has advised its employees to shun religious or social organisations that go against the country’s secular ideals.
The directive dated July 7 says the employees do not need the state’s permission to join a specific organisation but they should quit if the government objects.
In this context, it points to the increasing incidence of government employees seeking permission to join groups or movements that are a cover for hardline religious, communal and casteist organisations.
“It is not possible to give out a complete list of such organisations or movements, so it is the responsibility of the employees to ensure credentials of organisations that they join or want to work with,” says the circular.
Chief Secretary Johny Joseph said: “This was a circular from the Centre and hence issued from the state government. In the Maharashtra Civil Service Rules, it is understood that employees should keep the government informed about affiliation to social or religious institutions.”
The buzz in government circles is that the directive stems from some recent incidents that have embarrassed the authorities. For instance, the main accused in the Malegaon bomb blast case is Lt Col P.S. Purohit, a serving army officer.
So are right wing outfits like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad the target?
No one is coming out and admitting it but a bureaucrat, on condition of anonymity, said: “The government has noticed an increase in affiliations to hard line organisations, extreme regional and religious groups, which can prove to be dangerous for the fabric of society.”
For example, the hardline Maratha Seva Sangh is led by a retired Public Works Department executive engineer Purshottam Khedekar.
This group and its offshoot, the Sambhaji Brigade, vandalised the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute in Pune in 2003, because it provided study material to James Laine, an American author who allegedly insulted Maratha warrior king Shivaji in his book.
Similar, several government officials have been linked to the Pratapgad Utsav Samiti, a front of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, that led violent protests and tried to destroy the tomb of Adilshahi general Afzal Khan at Pratapgad fort.