Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday told journalists working for the international press that the move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status would help integrate the state with the rest of India, Hindustan Times reported. The leader of the right-wing nationalist outfit, which is the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said Kashmiris do not need to worry about losing their jobs or land.
The RSS organised the meeting, which was restricted to 80 journalists from 50 media organisations, to articulate its position on matters such as the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya to a nationwide ban on cow slaughter. It was an off-camera and off-the-record briefing, and went on for almost two-and-a-half hours.
“We have been requested to keep the contents of the discussion under wraps,” an unidentified journalist from an international radio network told IANS. “But all I can say is he [Bhagwat] projected what he believes RSS is for and took questions liberally.”
RSS leaders such as Manmohan Vaidya, Krishna Gopal, and Bajran Lal Gupta, who heads the North India division, were present at the meeting. Bhagwat reportedly explained the Sangh’s version of Hindutva and emphasised that Hinduism stood for diversity in unity. The RSS chief is said to have explained to the journalists that his organisation viewed every Indian as a Hindu.
Bhagwat also answered questions on matters such as caste-based reservation, homosexuality, uniform civil code, and the National Register of Citizens in Assam. He reportedly said the NRC was not about expelling people but identifying those who are not citizens.
The RSS chief backed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which proposes citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. He said there was no place for Hindus in the world except India.
This meeting came months after sections of the international media criticised German envoy Walter Linder for visiting the RSS headquarters in Nagpur. The Turkey-based TRT World had called the RSS a “powerful Hindu far-right group” while The Jerusalem Post had published a report calling the organisation a “fascist Indian group”.