Sangh’s Muslim outreach contrasts with silence on BHU appointment row | Opinion
The silence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on the protest over the appointment of Firoz Khan is in sharp contrast to its recent outreach to Muslims in the run up to the Supreme Court judgment in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri masjid dispute.Updated: Nov 18, 2019 21:42 IST
On the top left hand corner of the Banaras Hindu University’s website is a box with its founder Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya’s picture and a message that describe India as not a country of the Hindus only.
“It is a country of the Muslims, the Christians and the Parsees too…It is my earnest hope and prayer that this centre of life and light which is coming into existence, will produce students who will not only be intellectually equal to the best of their fellow students in other parts of the world, but will also live a noble life, love their country and be loyal to the Supreme ruler,” reads the message.
The message and the significance Malviya’s words seem to have gone unnoticed or unheeded by the protesting students of the university who are objecting to the appointment of Firoz Khan, a Muslim, as faculty member to the varsity’s Sanskrit department. However, it is the silence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on the issue that stands out given its recent outreach to Muslims.
In the run-up to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri masjid title suit that was announced last week, the RSS went on an overdrive to allay fears among Muslims. From closed door meeting where plans were drafted on how to avert possible communal flare ups to reassuring public statements, urging the cadre not to celebrate the court’s verdict, the RSS chose moderation over celebrations of triumph.
The court’s nod to a temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya marked the fulfilment of the Sangh’s long-pending demand, yet its chief Mohan Bhagwat said the decision should not be viewed from the prism of “victory or defeat” and urged for welcoming the decision “with restraint, moderation and politeness” to avoid any provocative or instigating action or deed and staying within the limits of the Constitution and law.
Days before the court’s verdict, another senior functionary of the Sangh, Krishna Gopal at another closed door meeting, which had in attendance Muslim scholars and research students among others also reiterated inclusivity as India’s core value. Whether any political party needs them or not, the country needs Muslims, Gopal held forth.
Were these statements mere rhetoric?
There has been conspicuous silence from the Sangh and its affiliates on the plight of Firoz Khan, an alumnus of the Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, a deemed university under the Ministry of Human Resource Development. A recipient of the Sanskrit Yuva Pratibha Samman by Rajasthan government, Khan’s love for Sanskrit has also gone unnoticed by the Samskrita Bhararti, an organisation with links to the RSS that works for the preservation and propagation of Sanskrit and calls it a language that can unify.
The organisation which holds workshops for teaching Sanskrit overseas, including in countries like Kuwait and Bahrain has been silent on the controversy.
A senior functionary declined to comment on the issue on grounds that he was not familiar with the rules of appointment, even as the university has gone on record to say that the appointment was made after following due process.
On the one hand the Sangh urges Indian Muslims to follow in the footsteps of Dara Shikho, the Mughal prince who translated 50 Upanishads from Sanskrit into Persian and fits their description of a ‘good Muslim’ and on the other it has chosen to overlook the ruckus over Khan’s appointment.