The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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RSS willing to take train to Pak

Mumbai, Aug. 14: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today said it was “open” to a train — or even a bus — ride to Pakistan.

“Had we been invited properly, we would have been in that bus which carried the delegation of Indian parliamentarians to Lahore,” RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said.

“The organisers of the Pakistan visit said MPs and journalists were invited, but we fall in neither category. Of course, we would have gone because Pakistan is, after all, a part of our cultural heritage.”

Representatives of the Sangh had dropped out of the delegation that left for Islamabad last Saturday to attend the Indo-Pak conference organised by the South Asia Free Media Association. The conference was seen as a confidence-building measure between the estranged neighbours.

Madhav said the Sangh did make an attempt to go to Pakistan. “The RSS’ senior leader, M.G. Vaidya, had reached Delhi all the way from Nagpur, along with two other members, but something seems to have gone amiss once they reached Delhi. They missed the bus.”

He shied away from saying if there was a conspiracy to derail the RSS’ bus ride to Pakistan.

Madhav said the RSS supports the Prime Minister’s initiatives.

But though he claimed that “even our sarsanghchalak can go to Pakistan if the occasion arises”, the offer to take a peace delegation came with the rider that there was little hope of a “real breakthrough”.

Today, Pakistan says it is ready for peace and tomorrow, it gets ready to say that the terrorism in Kashmir is a jihad, Madhav said. “As long as President (Pervez) Musharraf changes his statements like this, how can there be peace'”

Although the RSS maintained that it is with peace “and, therefore, with Vajpayee”, the Sangh came down heavily on chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s healing-touch policy in Jammu and Kashmir.

There has been no healing, only an increase in terrorism and an encouragement to terrorists, Madhav said. “Now, Mufti has stopped talking about any kind of healing,” he added, asserting that there was a lot of healing to be done in Kashmir because the ground reality belied Sayeed’s optimism.

The RSS did not fail to take a pot shot at the National Human Rights Commission and its “activism” in the Best Bakery massacre case. The panel had petitioned the Supreme Court for a retrial in the Gujarat riot case after the main witness, Zahira Sheikh, alleged that she was forced to lie in court, leading to the acquittal of all the accused.

Madhav said the RSS, as an organisation, encourages NGOs and all types of commissions, but there is a feeling of late that their life begins and ends in Gujarat. “Why are all of them so quiet on what is happening to Hindus in Doda and other bordering areas in Kashmir. Don’t they see that there is a conspiracy to scuttle the call for Kashmiri Hindus to settle in the Valley so that the Chenab Valley formula is given a fillip'’’

The RSS dismissed the Chenab formula, which suggests that areas with Muslim majority be handed over to Pakistan and those with Hindu dominance like Jammu remain with India. The Sangh said that as far as it was concerned, it would be satisfied only with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir being returned to India.

“No peace process will be complete without this as people cannot talk of an understanding between an oppressor (Pakistan) and a victim with the benefit going to the oppressor,” Madhav said. He iterated that though the Sangh supports the Centre’s peace offers to Musharraf, “the distrust remains as Pakistan has been consistently inconsistent”.

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