Tuesday October 24, 2017
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Dear Irfan Habib, RSS is like Muslim League, not ISIS

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Eminent historian Irfan Habib stoked a controversy recently by equating right-wing outfit Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with the terrorist group ISIS.

“Intellectually, there is not much difference between RSS and ISIS,” he said while addressing a convention organized by agitating writers, filmmakers and intellectuals, who are miffed with the reports of growing ‘religious intolerance’ in the country.

This, I believe, is an incorrect and injudicious comparison. For the RSS, unlike ISIS, is not out on the roads beheading people for their ideologies, stoning them to death and burning them alive in order to spread its tentacles around the world. Needless to mention, the barbarity of the savage ISIS knows no bounds. Therefore, to suggest that both the outfits are similar is ridiculous to say the least.

The correct comparison, therefore, would be between the RSS and the Muslim League, two ideologies that sit on the far right of India’s political spectrum. They are two sides of the same coin, seeking Hindu and Muslim supremacy.

Likewise, some BJP leaders’ controversial remarks in recent days reek of nothing but immense hatred for a particular community. While Kailash Vijayvargiya said that Shah Rukh Khan’s heart was in Pakistan, Yogi Adityanath equated him with 26/11 Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

No prizes for guessing whether these irresponsible statements will end up uniting Indians or dividing them.

The problem with most of us is that we do not think before speaking and forget that excercising an economy of words is a virtue. When we compare RSS with ISIS or attack fellow countrymen for no fault of their own, it pushes us further towards the abyss of darkness. It is to be noted that Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing of the RSS, secured a major victory in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and currently has a stable government at the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

There are as many as 13 states in India where it either rules the roost or shares the power with other regional parties. RSS, like ISIS, is not a banned organization. Although following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, a ban was imposed on the outfit by the government, yet it was soon lifted in view of a lack of sufficient evidence showing its involvement in the former’s murder. RSS has over 50,000 Shakhas (branches) across the country.

The organizational network of the RSS, which claims to be a nationalist organization, is virtually unparalleled. For instance, in the last one year alone, it has established over 6,000 shakhas where its workers gather every day and discuss issues faced by the nation.

The correct comparison, therefore, would be between the RSS and the Muslim League, two ideologies that sit on the far right of India’s political spectrum. The Muslim League, led by Muhammed Ali Jinnah, was a communal outfit seeking a separate country for Muslims and a division of India along the lines of religion.

“Hindus and Muslims cannot live together and are two nations,” was the two-nation theory based on which the League fought its sanguine political battle for ‘Pakistan – the land of the pure’ and eventually secured it causing unprecedented and irreparable damage to India’s unity.

When I think of the Muslims League, my mind dwells upon the ‘Great Calcutta Killings’ that took place on August 16, 1946 which served to catalyse into violence the rivalry of India’s Hindu and Muslim communities. It was Jinnah’s ‘Direct Action Day’, to prove to Britain and the Congress Party that India’s Muslims were prepared ‘to get Pakistan for themselves by “Direct Action” if necessary’.

‘We shall have India divided,’ Jinnah had vowed, ‘or we shall have India destroyed.’

Never, in all its violent history, had Calcutta (now Kolkata) known 24 hours as savage, as packed with human viciousness as this one. By the time the slaughter was over, the great city belonged to the vultures. The League’s violence continued till it achieved the partition of India in the name of religion and created a country where minorities have almost no rights today.

The RSS and the Muslim League were two sides of the same coin, seeking Hindu and Muslim supremacy. Cadres of both the outfits were allegedly involved in the mass murders and rapes during and after the cataclysmic partition. When the Congress party was fighting for India’s independence, these two outfits were allegedly collaborating with the British.

One of the prominent leaders who influenced and shaped the ideology of the RSS was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi in his book ‘Let’s Kill Gandhi’, writes that Savarkar was the first Indian leader to publicly say that India could never be a united country; at the Ahmedabad convention of the Hindu Mahasabha, he stated that there are two Indias – a Hindu Rashtra and a Muslim nation. This was much before Jinnah’s Muslim League voiced the demand for Pakistan.

It was Savarkar who had, in 1931, first mooted the idea of forming a Hindu Sangathana, a militant Hindu organization. It was he who had, in 1942, mooted the idea of forming a Hindu Rashtra Dal – members of which would be the storm troopers of the Hindu Mahasabha.

Savarkar wanted to be the leader of the Hindu Rashtra and did not care for what the Muslims did with their Pakistan. Jinnah had similar thoughts. He wanted a Muslim Pakistan which would have nothing to do with India.

Only one man could stop them – Mohandas K Gandhi.

Savarkar and Jinnah hated him for this. Verily, the former was one of the accused of the murder of Gandhiji. However, the leader was later acquitted of all the charges in this regard. In a nutshell, the communal ideologies of both the RSS and the Muslim League are the very antithesis of the idea of a pluralistic, liberal India. They are more like each other.

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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asia cup
(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh Worker Shot Dead in Uttar Pradesh

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Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh
Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh Drill. Wikimedia

Lucknow, October 21: A Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) worker was shot dead on Saturday in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district, police said.

The incident occurred when unidentified motorcycle-borne assailants shot at the 35-year-old, Rajesh Mishra, also a journalist working with the Dainik Jagran Hindi daily, who was sitting at his brother Amitesh’s shop in the Karanda area.

Locals and passers-by rushed the two to a nearby hospital where Rajesh was pronounced brought dead.

Amitesh, 30, is said to be in critical condition.

A senior police official said Rajesh was an active RSS member and was also working as a contractor.

So far, no details have emerged in the initial probe but added that they were talking to the family of the deceased.(IANS)

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Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

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Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)