By Mosarrap H. Khan
No more ‘Saffron Terrorism’? Should we now explicitly name this brand, ‘Hindu Terrorism’?
On 8 Februrary, 2014, The Caravan magazine published a series of four interviews with Swami Aseemanand, one of the prime accused in the Samjhauta Express blasts. Aseemanand is still lodged in Ambala Central Jail, Haryana. The interviews were conducted by Leena Gita Reghunath, one of the Caravan Journalists.
Reghunath’s first meeting with Aseemanand took place on 20 December, 2011 during a court hearing at the Panchkula District Court, Haryana. And The Caravan informs its readers: “Over the course of the next two years, the reporter interviewed Aseemanand, in prison, four times—on 10 January 2012, 22 June 2013, 9 January 2014, and 17 January 2014. As the interviews progressed, Aseemanand became increasingly open with the journalist. All four interviews were tape-recorded. Aseemanand consented to the recordings. In total, the recordings run to more than nine hours and 26 minutes.”
We reproduce below some of the highlights of his interview.
[As an aside, Aseemanand, whose pre-sanyas name was Naba Sarkar, hails from Kamarpukur (West Bengal), which is just about 15 kilometers from Kotalpur, where I was born. We attended the same college, Kamarpukur College, from where he obtained a B.Sc. before going on to complete an M.Sc. from Burdwan University.]
Terrorism to Save Hinduism?
“I was a worker of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, a wing of the Sangh. For this work I travelled the whole of India – Nagaland, the Northeast, Andamans, Kerala, and then came to Dang.
They had no knowledge of Hinduism. No Hindu priests were there. The Christian priests would go and give religious sermons, but I didn’t think that made any effect on them. But then when children fell ill they would say, pray to Jesus and your child will get better; so then people kept in touch with the priests, and then later ended up getting converted. So then I started organising the Hindus, whoever was left.
In 10 days, 40,000 Christians got converted to Hinduism and 30 churches ko tod ke humnein mandir banaaya. (We destroyed 30 churches and built temples.)
When talking to them [Pragya Singh, Sunil Joshi etc.] I also used to air my views. The biggest issue is Muslims. With Christians we can always stand together and threaten them. Mussalman se nipatne ke liye abhi se tayyar hona padega. (We must be ready from right now to deal with Muslims.) They are multiplying fast. If they become a majority we will be in really bad shape. Kuch karna chahiye. (We ought to do something.) For this from Indore Pragya, Sunil and other people would often come to discuss ways to curb this with me.
In 2008, the first blast in Malegaon happened. In 2007 February, Samjhauta, in Mecca [Masjid, in Hyderabad] in 2007 May and Ajmer happened in 2007 September. In whatever that happened in 2007, they arrested Muslims. Then in 2008 for the first time they got a motorcycle – of Pragya’s. Then they thought, even Hindus are equally active. Pragya had given her motorcycle to someone 4 years back.
I saw the videos in which Taliban slaughter people. Yes I did talk in meetings about that. I said that if Muslims multiply like this they will make India a Pakistan soon, and Hindus here will have to undergo torture. I used to tell Sunil that we should do something to frighten them off. I did stress that we should do something about it soon. But blaming me for the planning of the blasts is not the truth.
Gujarat mein main Hindutva ka kaam ke liye gaya. Aur aap ko kya main bataoon, 2002 mein jo Godhra aaya, Gujarat ke us adivasi area mein jo Mussalmano ka safaya kiya, usmein bhi main bahut active raha. Usme par main samne nahi aaya tha, isi liye me choot gaya. Adivasi area mein jo kaam kiya hain, woh direct adivasi ne hi kiya. Hum saamne nahi aaye. Abhi tak wahaan koi waapas nahi aaya. Baki sab jagah jo gaye woh waapas aaye. Yahaan pe aa hi nahin saktein. Dang mein nahi tha: par Panchmahal se leke uttar tak.
(I went to Gujarat for the work of Hindutva. Let me tell you this, in 2002, when Godhra happened, the cleansing of Muslims from the adivasi areas, I was very active in that. I didn’t reveal myself at the time, so I went free. The work done in adivasi areas was done directly by the adivasis. I did not come forward. And no one [no Muslim] has returned there so far. They’ve returned to all the other places. Here they cannot return. They weren’t in Dang, but from Panchmahal to the north.)
We wanted to let the people know through media that we had taken badla (revenge) for what happened to the Sankat Mochan temple and other temples.
We were having discussions on this. Kya naam rakhun? Mussalman ko bhi lage ki hum Hindu log kar rahe hain. (What name to keep? The Muslims ought to know that we Hindus are doing this.)
Iska badla toh lena chahiye aur batana chahiye ki hum Hindu logon ne kiya hain. Aur isliye sanghatan ka kuch naam leke, Hindu ke saath juda hua. Aur media ko bataye ki hum Hindu logon ne badla liya, mandir ke liye badla liya. Baki jagah mein jo hua uske bare mein hum nahin soch rahe hain. Mandir mein lagaya toh badla liya hain, aura aage bhi lenge. Naam koi nahin rakh paye. Aur media ko kabhi bata bhi nahi paaye. Aur beech me Sunil guzar bhi gaya. Isliye kabhi media ko bata nahi paaye. (We had to take revenge for this; we ought to be able to say that we Hindus did this. So we wanted to give the group a name related to Hinduism, and tell the media that we Hindus took revenge; took revenge for the temple. We have thought nothing of blasts that have occurred elsewhere. But for it happening in a temple, we have taken revenge, and will take more. We kept no name. Couldn’t tell the media. Sunil died, in between, so we couldn’t tell the media.)
You should not write this. I am a violent one among the Sangh people. Have used violence to establish Hindutva — in Dangs, Andaman, Chattisgarh, Nagaland. Please don’t write it.”
On Swami Vivekananda’s Teaching:
“I like his line [of Vivekananda] that when a Hindu converts to Muslim or Christian, it is not just that we have one Hindu less among us, we have one new enemy of the Hindus. I like the line. It is framed with his photo and put up in Dang. I have heard a lot about Savarkar and was greatly influenced by his teachings, and so went to meet his family; and then we all ended up working together on the same goal. We are worried about the increasing number of Muslims. They should have two children only. If they keep multiplying at this rate, in fifty years they will become the majority in this country. We should bring in a movement against this, like the movement against corruption that is happening. That everyone should have one or two kids.”
[I myself attended Ramakrishna Mission School in Rahara, which was founded by Swami Vivekananda and I never heard such a thing during my stay in the school hostel, where Hindu rituals were followed during prayers and ways of life. I am not sure where Aseemanand came across such teachings in Vivekananda’s writing.]
On the Involvement of the RSS:
“Mohan Bhagwat [RSS Chief], Indresh [the RSS National Executive Council Member] and Sunil, they all came to meet me in Shabari Dham. We all four were sitting.
Sunil said to Bhagwat ji: dekhiye, thoda Hindu ka akraman hona hain. Sangh se jude hue log hain, jo yeh vichar rakhte hain. Jo bhi hoga hum tak hi rakhenge. Sangh se inko jodenge bhi nahin. Aap se koi madad nahi lenge. Aap adhikari hain isliye aap ko bata rahe hain. Is liye aapko bata rahein hain, ki hum log soch rahe hain. (Look, we should do some violence in the name of Hindus. There are people in the Sangh who feel so. Whatever happens, it will be between us alone. We will not link the Sangh with this. We won’t take any help from you for this. We are letting you know because you are the top officials, that we are planning to do this.)
Then Mohanji and Indresh, both said: Yeh bahut achcha hain. Zaroori hain. Sangh se nahi jodna. Sangh nahin karenge. [unclear] Hindutva ke liye bhi aisa koi hain. Sangh ka yeh vichar nahi hain. (This is great. It’s very important that it be done. But don’t link it to the Sangh. The Sangh will not do this. [unclear]. Now Hindutva has someone like this on its side. But this is not the ideology of the Sangh.)
Then they told me: Swamiji aap yeh karenge toh hum nishchint hoga. Koi galat nahi hoga. Criminalisation nahi hoga. Aap karenge toh crime karne ke liye kar rahe hain aisa nahin lagega. Ideology ke saath juda rahega. [unclear] Bahut zaruri hain yeh Hindu ke liye. Aap log karo. Aashirwad hain. Isse aage kuch bhi nahi. (If you will do this we will be at ease with this. Nothing wrong will happen then. This will not be criminalised then. If you do it then people won’t say that we committed a crime for the sake of committing a crime. It will be connected to the ideology. This is very important for the Hindus. Please do this. You have our blessings. Nothing more than that from us.)
So then Mohan ji told me that, “Aap kaam kar sakte hain” (You can do this). Indresh told me “Aap kaam kar sakte hain. Sunil ko leke aap kaam kar sakte hain. Par hum log nahin rahenge. Aap hain toh hum log aap ke saath hain yeh aap maan lena. Aap jo karenge galat nahi hoga. Disha theek rahega.” (You can do this. You can do this with Sunil. But we won’t be a part of it. If you are there, believe that we too are with you. What you are going to do will not be wrong. The course will be right.)””
[Aseemanand talks more about Mohan Bhagwat’s involvement in the fourth interview, which is only partly uploaded on The Caravan website.]
On Narendra Modi:
“Then, Keshubhai left and Narendra bhai came into power. Even before he became CM, Narendra bhai used to come and meet me and he told me, “I know that Keshubhai is troubling you. He will soon be out of power and I will become the CM. Phir aapka kaam hum karenge. (Then, I will do your work.)””
As expected, Aseemanand has already denied that he ever gave an interview to The Caravan. And there have been protests by the RSS outside The Caravan office.
What makes me wonder is why do we have such exposes just before the elections?
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