RSS book claims freedom fighter Rajguru was a swayamsevak
Freedom fighter Rajguru, who was sent to the gallows with Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev for the assassination of British police officer JP Saunders in Lahore in 1928, was associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a new book written by former RSS pracharak (functionary) and journalist Narendra Sehgal claims.
The assertion made in the book Bharatvarsh ki Sarvang Swatantrata (The complete freedom of India), copies of which were circulated at the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha held in Nagpur in March, is an attempt by the organisation to “clear the air” on its role during the freedom struggle, said its author.
In a chapter titled Swayamsevak Swatantrata Senani (RSS freedom fighters), Sehgal writes that Rajguru visited the RSS headquarters in Nagpur after Sander’s assassination, which was carried out to avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai who succumbed to the injuries he received during police action when he was leading a march in Lahore in 1928 against the Simon Commission.
According to Sehgal, Rajguru met KB Hedgewar, the founding chief of the RSS, who arranged for a safe house for him and advised him not to visit his home in Pune while the police were on the look out for him. Sehgal also claims that Rajguru was a swayamsevak with the Mohite Bagh Shakha (unit) of the RSS.
“On hearing of their sacrifice [the execution of Rajguru and other], Guruji [Hegdewar] was sad, not surprised. He told his associates that their sacrifice will not go in vain,” Sehgal writes.
“This fact has been recorded in some publications of the RSS; it was first mentioned in a book in 1960 by Narayan Hari,” Sehgal said, when asked about the veracity of the claim.
However, dismissing the claims, historian Aditya Mukherjee said it was a “ridiculous attempt [by the RSS] to appropriate an icon just as it has done with BR Ambedkar, Swamy Vivekanand and Bal Gangadhar Tilak”.
Professor Chaman Lal, a former JNU professor who has edited a book titled Bhagat Singh Aur Unke Sathiyon Ke Dastavej (The documents of Bhagat Singh and his associates) also debunked the theory.
“Earlier, the RSS tried to suggest that Bhagat Singh was associated with them. There is no proof to suggest Bhagat Singh or Rajguru were part of the RSS; the biographies written by their associates also do not make any mention of these claims,” Lal said.
Sehgal for his part said the “facts remained” undocumented since the RSS “did not take credit” for its role in the freedom struggle.
“RSS workers joined Gandhiji during the struggle but they did not use the banner of the Sangh. Even during the Emergency, a large number of people associated with [socialist leader] Jayprakash Narayan were from the RSS. Just because they joined the movements without using the name of the RSS does not mean they did not participate in the freedom struggle,” he said.
Sehgal’s sentiment finds an echo in RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s foreword to the book.
Bhagwat, too, has iterated that because the RSS workers did not believe in claiming credit, some “vested interests” have been denying the Sangh’s role in the freedom struggle.
Sehgal told HT that owing to the growing presence and popularity of the ‘Hindutva movement’ after the revolt of 1857, the British “used AO Hume to form the Indian National Congress in 1885 to counter the growth of the Hindutva movement. Later, the RSS was formed in 1925”.
After opposition parties, particularly the Congress, accused the RSS of being responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, the Sangh brass instructed its cadre to write books and distribute publications listing its role in the freedom struggle.
These publications, as HT had reported earlier, were meant to counter what it calls “propaganda” against the Sangh.