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RSS releases `proof' of its innocence

By Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI, AUG. 17. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today denied that it had anything to do with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and as "proof" of its innocence circulated a copy of a letter written by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Jawaharlal Nehru just 28 days after the murder. However, it seems that the RSS overlooked the fact that the same letter blamed V.D. Savarkar for hatching the conspiracy and "seeing it through" while emphasising that "the assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and the [Hindu] Mahasabha."

Defamation suit

Today, the RSS spokesperson, Ram Madhav, told a press conference that the organisation would wait for a week for a formal reply to its legal notice to the Human Resource Development Minister, Arjun Singh, after which it would file a criminal defamation suit against the Minister under Section 500 of the Indian Penal Code for his written statement that the Mahatma's murder was the "only achievement of the RSS." Mr. Singh has already challenged the RSS to "do its worst" and has said that there is no question of his offering an apology.

To substantiate his assertion that the RSS had nothing to do with the Mahatma's assassination, Mr. Madhav circulated copies of Sardar Patel's letter of February 20, 1948 addressed to Nehru.

The three-page letter went into details of the investigation into the assassination and said that, "it clearly emerges from these statements [made by various people during investigations] that the RSS was not involved in it at all."

But the very next sentence stated: "It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that [hatched] the conspiracy and saw it through."

The letter also stated that the Mahatma's assassination "was welcomed by those of the RSS and the [Hindu] Mahasabha who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy ... the RSS has undoubtedly other sins and crimes to answer for, but not for this one."

Savarkar controversy

It appeared that while the RSS was absolving itself of any guilt in the Mahatma's assassination, it unwittingly added fuel to the Savarkar controversy that raised its head in Parliament today.

Mr. Madhav today charged Mr. Singh with having no commitment to any ideology but power and for using the RSS as a "whipping boy" and the Mahatma's assassination as an instrument in the Congress' internal power politics. "Whenever there is an internal power struggle in the Congress party the often repeated old charges related to Gandhi's assassination surface," Mr. Madhav said.

Admitting that the Mahatma's assassin, Nathuram Godse, was an RSS member, he said, "he had left [the RSS]" before the assassination. "So many become our members and then leave," he added.

Mr. Madhav said that the Sarshanghchalak at that time, M.S. Golwalkar, had condemned the assassination and had ordered the suspension of all RSS activities for 13 days as a mark of respect. Asked whether the Sangh had ever condemned Godse, Mr. Madhav shot back: "When we condemned the assassination did not that mean condemnation of the assassin?"

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