Mohan Bhagwat must explain why he has lost faith in Indian Army
The RSS chief doesn't see the difference between lumpen elements and soldiers at the height of the Siachen glacier.
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At a time when the Indian Army is counting its losses in the terror attack on the Sunjuwan Army camp in Jammu battling hard to flush out terrorists holed up, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has, in a brazen display of insensitiveness, tried to undermine the very institution protecting our borders and the country's sovereignty.
While addressing a meeting at Muzaffarpur on Sunday, by when four Army jawans had been martyred in Jammu, Bhagwat had this to say: "Preparing an Army takes six to seven months but we (RSS cadres) will be battle ready in two-three days... this is our capability and discipline that marks us apart."
Even though it is well known and accepted that RSS is a divisive force whose thinking is wrapped in the "us" versus "them" narrative, the fact that even the Army stands secluded from RSS' idea of "us" is unravelling of a horrid reality.
Given that Bhagwat enjoys a clout in the country and has many people listening to his ideas in rapt attention, the RSS chief should be sent to some of India's Army's training camps for a reality check.
Pre-empting the flak his statement would draw, Bhagwat was quick to add: "Ours is not a military or paramilitary organisation but our discipline is just like them." Someone needs to tell Bhagwat (which is when he is ready to listen to some voices of sanity) that getting up at 4am to attend an RSS shakha or getting some arms training does not prepare you to stand the vagaries of weather that soldiers are exposed to.
You can't be prepared to guard the country at the heights of Siachen Glacier where the temperatures are several notches below zero or at the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan where the mercury hits 50°C in a matter of three days. No, Mr Bhagwat, it is not that easy.
The point is, why did Bhagwat fail to see a point as simple as this?
Well, that's because Bhagwat does not see the difference between running amok with firearms on the roads, trying to scare the "others" into submission with full state backing and defending the country's borders. His myopia, however, is pitiable.
Admission of guilt
But Bhagwat's statement, despite being borne out of absolute ignorance, is worrying because it is an admission of the fact that RSS does have cadres trained in military warfare. It is also an admission of guilt on Bhagwat's part - RSS is an armed militia, not a cultural organisation.
The confidence exuded by the RSS chief over being able to mobilise a whole Army in three days is reflective of the extent to which armed training has been imparted. For an organisation that feeds off the philosophy of "otherisation", this is a scary admission.
In modern nation-states, the monopoly over legitimate use of violence lies only with the state. In claiming that monopoly from the state, Bhagwat is preparing the most perfect recipe for anarchy whose only outcome can be disaster.
Organised violence of any form - not legitimised by the state - therefore needs to be nipped in the bud. Legitimising it would open the floodgates for a war of identities and ideologies that would be fuelled by the ready supply of disgruntled youth whose energies have not been channelised because of a lack of enough employment opportunities.
RSS stands accused of targeting Muslims in Samjhauta Express, in Malegaon and in Mecca Masjid blasts. RSS' coming out in the open about its military preparedness must wake up the administration, which is sadly and deplorably trying to defend Bhagwat.
Indian Army is our pride. In emergency situation(not congress emergency) every Indian must volunteer to stand with Defence Forces. Bhagwat ji only said it takes 6-7 months for a person to be a trained soldier & if Constitution permits RSS cadres has the ability to contribute.— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) February 12, 2018
Reports of RSS unashamed flaunting of weapons during Vijay Dashami and taking to streets with weapons in the name of culture needs to be called out for what it is - a brash assertion of lumpens on the loose trying to assert control over a country, its ethos, its syncretism, its culture and its soul.
But Bhagwat must be asked to explain the premise of his claim. What is the kind of training his "army" has received, how many men are at his beck and call. Even more importantly, Bhagwat must answer what the need was for RSS to build this "army" when India had an Army of its own, who is RSS preparing to fight out and against.
Did RSS at some point lose faith in the Indian Army or does the outfit have an enemy of its own that it is gearing up to take on? Bhagwat owes these answers to everyone in the country but more importantly to the Indian Army personnel whose training and ability to respond to outside threats he has questioned.