January 29, 2016

India's Northeast: RSS in show of strength - March in Shillong on Netaji birth anniversary

The Telegraph - January 24 , 2016

RSS in show of strength

- March in Shillong on Netaji birth anniversary
The RSS road march in Shillong on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Shillong, Jan. 23: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) today took out its first road march here to declare its presence in Meghalaya.
Nearly 300 cadres, dressed in RSS uniform with sticks in hand, joined the march which began at 8am from Upper Mawprem and passed through various routes before ending at Balika Vidyalaya School opposite Lady Keane College. It was organised by RSS Vibhag Karyawa, Shillong.
The RSS cadres were mostly youth and elderly persons from Khasi Jaintia tribes who follow the indigenous faith - Niam Khasi, Niam Tre - as well as non-tribals. "We have 293 cadres, spread across 39 villages of Khasi-Jaintia hills who took part in the march, of whom 80 are cadres from non-tribal communities," said Mangkashang Khongshei, the secretary of RSS Vibhag Karyawa, Shillong.
Khongshei said the RSS used to hold a gathering every year to pay tributes to various freedom fighters, including Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, U Tirot Sing and U Kiang Nangbah.
Khongshei, who has been associated with the RSS since 1993 and undergone training at Halflong, Assam, said the Shillong unit was formed in 1998.
He claimed the RSS existed in Shillong since 1946 but the organisation was not that active earlier. "This year we decided to organise the march here as they were being held throughout the country to pay tribute to Bose."
Bose's 119th birth anniversary was celebrated throughout the country today.
Khongshei said there are altogether 800 RSS cadres in Khasi-Jaintia hills. "We thought at least 500 cadres would turn up for the march and our expectation was at least 2,000 people would participate." He said the RSS has trained cadres in Garo hills under the Tura Vibhag, who took out a similar march in Zikzak.
"From now, we will work hard and focus on the betterment of the people and the nation. Anyone can join the RSS. It does not matter, Christian or non-Christian, but what we need is unity," he said, in a bid to allay apprehensions that the RSS works to provide character training through Hindu discipline.
Though the presence of RSS in other states is not new, its cadres coming out in the open for the first time in this Christian-dominated state came as a surprise to many. Addressing the cadres at Balika Vidyalaya School ground, Khongshei said, "In 44 years of statehood, Meghalaya is nothing but a failed state without any hope for its people. There is no education policy or a policy for farmers and the youth. The state is still copying and pasting rules and regulations from Assam," he said.
Terming the social systems in matrilineal Meghalaya as "very weak", Khongshei said people from outside, especially illegal migrants, could easily intrude. He alleged that most these illegal migrants who came as labourers, took advantage of these "weak" social systems and targeted "our daughters" for marriage.