Worried RSS fends off Dalit attack charge

New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Wednesday termed the "ongoing caste violence" in Maharashtra "despicable" and demanded that the guilty be punished, seeking to ward off Opposition allegations that the anti-Dalit bloodshed had been unleashed by organisations associated with the RSS.

Internally, the growing incidents of violence on Dalits and the assertion of their identity have caused concern in the Sangh parivar, which fears the issue could jeopardise one of its core goals of assimilating the Dalits under the wider Hindutva umbrella, sources said.

The matter will be discussed at the two-day coordination meeting of the RSS-BJP in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, beginning on Thursday, the sources said.

The RSS, which rarely offers a prompt reaction, issued a statement on the Koregaon violence, reflecting the concern in the Sangh after the Opposition went all out to slam the RSS-BJP for the attack on Dalits that fuelled protests across Maharashtra.

"A central pillar of the RSS/BJP's fascist vision for India is that Dalits should remain at the bottom of Indian society. Una, Rohith Vemula and now Bhima-Koregaon are potent symbols of the resistance," Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief and Dalit icon Mayawati held the BJP, the RSS and other caste forces responsible for the Koregaon violence.

The RSS refrained from mentioning the word Dalit in its statement and spoke instead of "caste violence".

"The recent incidents at Koregaon, Pune, and various other places in Maharashtra are very sad and painful. The RSS strongly condemns such violence and feels it is despicable," the statement said.

"Some forces are trying to create hatred and animosity among communities," it said, without specifying.

"The RSS appeals to the public to maintain unity and harmony in the society, which have always been the top priority for the RSS," the statement added.

The RSS and the BJP have been trying to win over Dalits, getting leaders to visit homes of community members and share meals. The BJP's decision to field Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit, for President and launch the "Bhim app" were aimed at reaching out to Dalits.

House ruckus

The Koregaon violence rocked Parliament on Wednesday.

In the Rajya Sabha, leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra and CPI and CPM sought suspension of all business to discuss the attacks on Dalits. Chairman Venkaiah Naidu refused, leading to a ruckus.

In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to know who threw stones at the Dalits who had gone to Bhima Koregaon to celebrate the 200th anniversary of a battle in which English soldiers using Mahar troops had defeated Peshwas.

Kharge alleged that the RSS had instigated violence and demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge.


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