The author of the hate philosophy against Muslims was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the founder of Hindu Mahasabha, who authored the pamphlet ‘Hindutva’ during his incarceration in jail at Andaman and Nicobar Island during 1910-1921 wherein he expounded on the racial superiority of Hindus. He is the same man who was also arrested on the accusations of being a mastermind behind the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Sardar Vallabhai Patel, in correspondence with Nehru, had mentioned his strong links with Godse and the commission formed to investigate the murder had also alluded to the same connectivity between him and Godse, but the court released him for lack of concrete corroborative evidence.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the election campaign in Maharashtra, promised to confer the highest Indian honour of ‘Bharat Ratna’ on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Bestowing the highest honour on the author of Hindutva indicates how faithfully the BJP and Narendra Modi are trying to implement the ideology in letter and spirit.

The Hindutva ideology led to the launching of RSS by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925. The initial objective of RSS was to provide character training through Hindu discipline and to unite the Hindu community to form a Hindu Rashtra (nation). It promoted the ideals of upholding Indian culture and the values and the spread of Hindutva ideology. Hindutva means strengthening the Hindu community. It drew inspiration from European right-wing parties during World War II, particularly leaders like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler and their philosophy of racial purity.

French political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot, specialising in South Asian affairs, particularly India and Pakistan, points out that in the ideology of the RSS along with other Hindu nationalist movements such as the Arya Samaj and the Hindu Mahasabha, Muslims, Christians and the British are seen as “foreign bodies” implanted in the Hindu nation, who were able to exploit the disunity and absence of valour among the Hindus in order to subdue them. However, a majority of scholars believe that RSS was actually formed to fight Indian Muslims.

In 1927 the founder of RSS Kashev Baliram Hedgewar led a Hindu religious procession beating drums in defiance of the usual practice not to pass in front of a mosque with music which triggered clash between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The Hindus had the upper hand. This incident vastly enhanced the prestige of RSS and contributed to its subsequent expansion. RSS adopted as its emblem the saffron flag of the Hindu warrior King ‘Shivaji’ and objected to the adoption of the tricolor flag of India as well as the Indian constitution, particularly its secular creed and the fact that it would treat all castes equally. RSS believed that partition was a result of a mistaken soft-line towards the Muslims, which only confirmed the natural moral weaknesses and corruptibility of the politicians.

After partition the process of RSS becoming a political force to reckon with started during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan which culminated in the emergence of Bangladesh. RSS provided support to the government, by offering its services to maintain law and order in Delhi and its volunteers were apparently the first to donate blood. The organisation got a boost during the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi for its role in the movement against it which was finally lifted in 1977.

The RSS and Jana Sangh, a nationalist party took complete advantage of the 1965 war with Pakistan to ‘deepen suspicion about Muslims’, and also en-cashed the growing unpopularity of Congress, particularly in the Hindi-belt, where a left-wing alternative was weak or non-existent. The major themes on the party’s agenda during this period were banning cow slaughter, abolishing the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and legislating a uniform civil code.

The RSS dominated Jana Sangh started making alliances by joining anti-Congress coalitions. It became part of the 1971 Grand Alliance and finally merged itself with the Janata Party in 1977. The success of Janata Party in 1977 elections made the RSS members central ministers for the first time (Vajpayee, Advani and Brij Lal Verma) and provided the RSS with an opportunity to avail the state and its instruments to further its ends, through the resources of various state governments as well as the central government.

The former Jana Sangh elements formed a new party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1980. BJP did not have much electoral success in its initial years and was able to win only two seats in the 1984 elections. After L.K. Advani replaced Vajpayee as party president in 1986, the BJP also began to rally around the Ayodhya campaign. In 1990, the party organised the Ram Rath Yatra to advance this campaign in large-scale. Advani also attacked the then ruling Congress party with slogans such as ‘pseudo secularism’, accusing Congress of misusing secularism for the political appeasement of minorities, and established an explicit and unambiguous path of Hindu revival.

The Ayodhya issue and the related communal riots which polarised the electorate along religious lines helped the BJP make good progress in the subsequent elections of 1989, 1991 and 1996. Finally the BJP won the elections in 2014 and a diehard disciple of RSS, Narendra Modi, who is known as butcher of Gujrat for the massacre of Muslims became Prime Minister of India. Modi adopted a belligerent posture towards Pakistan which gave boost to his popularity and enabled him to win 2018 elections with a thumping majority. On August 5, 2019 he finally managed to fulfil his pledge by ending special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir followed by its annexation to the Indian Union and the promulgation of new domicile law meant to change demographic realities of the state.

Modi strengthened his anti-Muslim credentials by laying the foundation of Ram Mandir on the site of the demolished Babri Mosque on August 5, 2020, the day on which his government had ended special status of IIO&JK sending a loud and clear message to the world of his intentions and creed. The UN and the world community must act to stop Modi in his tracks before his madness leads to a catastrophic situation; a strong possibility to which Prime Minister Imran Khan has been inviting their attention.

Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The writer is a freelance columnist.ashpak10@gmail.com