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Wednesday 1 April 2020

Bhagwat assures Hindus, Kashmiris, LGBTQ… everybody

In this interaction with foreign media, journalists threw at RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat a barrage of questions from NRC to Article 370, from GDP growth to homosexuality

Editorials

In India

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Kolkata: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has issued a defining statement regarding the application of the National Citizenship Register (NRC). While he said yesterday that not a single Hindu will have to leave the country, today he sought to allay apprehensions that Kashmiris would lose land and jobs after the Narendra Modi government turned Article 370 defunct RSS. He said the move would break barriers between them and the rest of India.

On Sunday, there was a meeting of organisations affiliated to the RSS and the BJP in Kolkata. After this, an office-bearer of the Sangh had said, “The sarsanghchalak clearly said that not a single Hindu would have to leave the country. Bhagwat ji said that Hindus who came to India, fleeing persecution and suffering in other nations, would remain here.”

In the final list of NRC released in Assam on 31 August, more than 19 lakh people were excluded. Many politicians, civil society members and administrators have advised getting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill through before starting the NRC exercise in West Bengal. This, they believe, will ensure that the state administrations make a distinction between non-Indians fleeing persecution in the neighbouring countries, who would largely comprise Hindus from Bangladesh and Pakistan besides Sikhs and Christians from Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, and those who sneaked in for better economic opportunities and terrorist motives.

The swayamsevak said, “The Citizenship Amendment Bill will be implemented in Bengal first and NRC will be brought after that. Hindus of the state need not worry about this.”

Significantly, 3,30,27,661 people had applied for inclusion in the NRC. Out of the total applicants, 3,11,21,004 had been found eligible for inclusion in the final list of NRC while 19,06,657 people were excluded from this list.

However, the Ministry of Home Affairs has already said that those who have been left out of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), will not be taken into custody. The ministry says that these people can appeal against the list within 120 days.

Bhagwat was today interacting with foreign journalists in New Delhi. He said Kashmiris had been “alienated” before Article 370 was virtually scrapped. “Whatever fears they have about losing land and jobs should be allayed,” the sarsanghchalak said. The RSS said in a statement, “This interaction was part of the continuous process where the ‘sarsanghchalak’ engages in constructive dialogue with people from different walks of the society.”

The RSS chief dealt with issues like the NRC (again), economic slowdown and mob lynching incidents as well. On NRC in Assam, Bhagwat said, “There is no place for Hindus in the world except India.” He added that the exercise was not one of expelling people but about identifying citizens.

The foreign journalists wanted to know the RSS’s view on homosexuality as well. Bhagwat said it was a “variation” and not an “abnormality”. “They should be treated as equal human beings and integrated into society,” he said.

On the backdrop of several lynching incidents media has reported from Jharkhand in recent months, the RSS chief said his organisation condemned all forms of violence and its volunteers should try to stop such incidents. “If a swayamsevak is found guilty, we will disown him and the law should follow its own course,” Bhagwat said.

Bhagwat said to the foreign journalists that the RSS would never be a political body and that “the Hindutva it espouses is about unity in diversity”.

On the economic slowdown, Bhagwat said that there was “no policy paralysis” since Narendra Modi became prime minister.

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