March 18, 2012

RSS's Chief Bhagwat's speech at Bhonsala Military School on Militarised Hinduism

From: Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 12, Dated 24 Mar 2012

Military Medium for the Parivar

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s speech at the Bhonsala Military School, calling for a more militant Hinduism, smacks of an ideology crisis in the Sangh, says Rana Ayyub

Bhonsala Military School in Nashik

Back to school the Bhonsala Military School in Nashik

Photo: Outlook

ONE OF the most baffling aspects of the 2008 Malegaon blasts probe was the cropping up of the name of the Bhonsala Military School. The Nashik-based military academy was started by Hindu Mahasabha founder Dr BS Moonje. The chargesheet filed by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) in 2009 cited several witnesses from the school who had confirmed that the main accused in the blasts case had indeed been teaching at the school. One of the main accused was Lt Col Srikant Purohit, who had provided training sessions at the school.

In fact, it was TEHELKA that had first named the school in its report on the narco analysis test of two of the accused in the 2008 Nanded blast. The accused on whom the narco tests were done had spoken about a certain military officer, whose alias was Mithun Chakraborty, having given them training in the handling of IEDs.

According to the narco report, the bomb planter Himanshu Panse and the co-accused Maroti Wagh had said that they had received training at the school for 40 days. They had then returned to Pune in 2003 and executed a bomb blast at the Gausiya Masjid in Parbhani. (Nanded Blast: The Hindu Hand by Shashwat Gupta Roy, 30 December 2006).

Thereafter, TEHELKA had also published investigative reports naming several ex-military men from the school and their involvement in the Malegaon blasts, which was later confirmed by the ATS. That the investigators had not done their bit in exposing the involvement of other elements from the military is a question that TEHELKA had raised in many of its previous reports in which it had also published transcripts of tapes that had thrown up names of several armymen. The reason that the school is back in public memory is a recent statement made by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on the school’s platinum jubilee year. In his speech, he said that the country is in need of more such schools and that they had already given two such proposals for the states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The aim of the school itself makes for a startling read. It says: “The training is meant for qualifying and fitting our boys for the game of killing masses of men with the ambition of winning victory with the best possible causalities [sic] of dead and wounded while causing the utmost possible to the adversary... to bring about military regeneration of the Hindus and to fit Hindu youths for undertaking the entire responsibility for the defence of their motherland... to educate them in the ‘Sanatan Dharma’, and to train them in the science and art of personal and national defence.

It did not, therefore, come as a surprise that Bhagwat used the platinum jubilee celebrations of the school to raise the emotive issue of Hindutva once again. “India was better off under the British rule”, and that “military schools run under the aegis of Hindutva institutions are the need of the hour,” he said.

Another senior RSS functionary Prakash Pathak went a step further in announcing the setting up of a military facility especially for women in Nashik. He added that the school run by the Central Hindu Military Education Society had received proposals from various BJP-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and also Uttarakhand.

There has been an increasing disenchantment within the rank and file of the RSS over a lack of ideology. The announcement made by Bhagwat was more hypocritical than radical. The Gujarat government — if its own education department is to be believed — has no such provision for a military school, especially with the kind of infrastructure a school of this nature requires. Further, as a state minister in the Gujarat government added: “We already have a Sainik School in Sabarkantha, why would we build another one?”

It is also interesting to see the statement in the light of what the RSS says in its organisational mouthpiece: that the BJP should follow on the lines of the Narendra Modi-style of governance in Gujarat. Something that has not gone down well with a section of leaders both within the BJP and the RSS.

The Central Hindu Military Education Society is mulling to start similar schools in BJP-ruled states

As a senior RSS leader said, “Just a couple of months ago, the RSS was trying to pull up Modi for his arrogance and this sudden change of stance only shows a strategy of convenience.”

WHILE BHAGWAT avers that the ideals of Dr Moonje needed to be affirmed with the opening up of many more such schools, there’s another side to the story. Moonje’s grandson Anand Moonje, a one-time director of the school, claims to have been removed from the school only because he exposed corrupt practices in it. Anand, who now runs a flying academy, had clashed with the school management over the manner of its functioning. “I realised that the school was only interested in funds. The Sangh did not care about ideology, all it cared about was its image,” he says. “I exposed the rampant corruption in the school, but senior leaders, including Bhagwat, chose to look the other way. I have papers to prove that land bought in the school’s name was being misused. But they decided to overlook my suggestions.”

Anand is also angry about the dismal condition of his grandfather’s statue in front of the New Delhi Railway Station and had written to Bhagwat about it. “During AB Vajpayee’s regime, he and LK Advani had launched a biography in which my grandfather was portrayed in a derogatory manner. And suddenly you want to be an opportunist and use his name.”

At a time when a section of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar is mulling over the strategy to be adopted for elections in the next two years, this could be a curtain raiser. It knows that the promise of starting such schools could help in reaching out to its cadres. Perhaps a clearer picture would emerge once the RSS wraps its three-day convention in Nagpur on 17 March.

What would be interesting to see is how it adapts to the demands of a section of the BJP that clearly seems to be at odds with the stance of the Sangh Parivar.

Q&A Anand Moonje Former director, Bhonsala Military School

‘The RSS is not run by ideology. It’s run for political benefit’

Anand Moonje, former director of the Bhonsala Military School in Nashik tells Rana Ayyub that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is talking about building more military schools only because the Hindutva organisation has now run out of ideas.

Anand Moonje

Outspoken Anand Moonje

Photo: Milind Wadekar


Recently, at the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Bhonsala Military School, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat spoke about the threat to the country’s internal security and about the need for starting more such military schools. Do you agree?
Can you ask Mohan Bhagwat if ideology and the idea of India matter to him? I was a part of the Sangh Parivar, was in jail during the Emergency, and was part of the Kar Seva in 1990. I was a core RSS man, still am where ideology is concerned. But the Sangh has forgotten its ideology. My grandfather Dr BS Moonje and my maternal grandfather Dr Paranjpe, founders of the Sangh, mentored KB Hedgewar. In 1947-48, while BR Ambedkar was negotiating for the Dalits and Jinnah for the Muslims, as president of the Hindu Mahasabha, my grandfather was negotiating for the cause of Hindus, but the Sangh is now marketing Hindutva for electoral gains.

So, is Bhagwat being hypocritical when he says that the Bhonsala Military School should be an inspiration?
Dr Moonje did not want the RSS to be what it is today. The RSS today is not run by ideology. It is run for political benefit. Do you know why they lost the Uttar Pradesh elections? Because the people in the state were with the BJP for Hindutva and the RSS has commercialised Hindutva. They promise Ram temple and put corrupt people in the state who have nothing to do with ideology. The purpose is not ideology, but to make money. When they have dissociated from Hedgewar, MS Golwalkar and Moonje, how long do you think they will take to dissociate themselves from Ram?

But why have you never spoken out against all this?
They have maligned my image, but I am still affiliated to the Sangh. I have my grandfather’s legacy. I was appalled, which is why I am speaking now. I wrote to Mohan Bhagwat and senior RSS members that his statues are in a dismal state in Delhi and Nagpur, but they did not bother. Hedgewarji’s biography was published during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime. The book said that Dr Moonje was responsible for the rift in the Hindu Mahasabha and today the same people go to the Bhonsala Military School and try to capitalise on the goodwill that he had built. How low can they stoop?

When we talk of the Bhonsala Military School, one of the reasons why it came out in the public domain is because of the arrests made in the Malegaon blasts. From Col Purohit to Ramesh Upadhyay, executioners and planners of the Malegaon blasts who are now behind bars for their role in the blasts, taught at Bhonsala. You have been one of the directors. What’s your take?
I can only be responsible for the school till the time I was in charge there, what happened later the Sangh should know better. The stupidest thing the Sangh did was to dissociate themselves from Lt Col Srikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya and then come to support them later. That too when the Shiv Sena came out in their support and they thought they would lose out to the Sena on the Hindutva issue. Today, they are again talking of building such schools with the support of military men, because they have no issues left. Why didn’t they have the guts to accept that Lt Col Purohit taught there?

Rana Ayyub is Assistant Editor, Mumbai with Tehelka.