R.S.S. Creating Havoc In Kutch

Fr. Willliam Macwan, S.J. reports from Rishta, Ahmedabad.

RSS does not want any organization from outside to come and carry out any relief work in Kutch.

It does not want any NGO that received foreign fund to work in Kutch. It has decided to send all the NGOs out of Kutch within 15 days resorting to physical violence if they do not leave the place voluntarily.

RSS has already begun using violence. In Adhoi, Kotada and Ratnal villages where GANTAR is doing relief work, RSS workers (a large crowd of 2000 or more) went and threatened the volunteers. DENIS, a Catholic youth volunteer from Nadiad was manhandled--almost tortured and had to be rescued and taken away immediately. RSS worker asked him when he was converted, why he has come here, etc.

RSS accuses NGOs receiving foreign funds of converting people to CHRISTIAN RELIGION. RSS is making use of KUTCHMITRA, a daily from Bhuj to spread and strengthen their campaign against NGOs.

An emergency meeting was called on 4th April by JANPATH where around 30 representatives belonging to different NGOs were present. Mr. Prasad Chacko (BSC) and Fr. William Macwan (RISHTA) attended the meeting. Phone calls were received constantly from Kutch even when the meeting was on, reporting further incidences of threats and violence by the RSS. All those who took part in the meeting agreed that the situation is VERY SERIOUS.

It was unanimously decided in the meeting to oppose RSSS by asserting any citizen's right to go and work in the earthquake affected places. It was decided to present a MEMORANDUM to the CM, Home minister and Relief Commissioner, DGP, Collector and DSP of Bhuj and also plan future protest programmes. It was also decided that a delegation of NGOs should meet the CM and the Collector of Bhuj next week.

Jan Jagaran Manch, an NGO that has been working in Lakadia village and has been accused of conversions organized a massive rally to protest against the RSS creating trouble and thus depriving people of relief and other aids.

A meeting with Sushma Ayengar, the initiator of Kutch ABHIYAN group was held at JANPATH INITIATVE office at 10.am. on Thursday, 5th April.. Martin Macwan and Gagan Sethi, the collaborators of Sushma were also present. All agreed that the situation was very serious and something has to be done to check the RSS harassment. Since ABHIYAN is also part of the JANPATH INITIATIVE and are based in Kutch, it was their responsibility to provide protection to NGOs that are part of JANPATH INITIATIVE and are now working in Kutch. An agreement was also arrived at to withdraw temporarily the relief work activities, wait for the reaction from RSS and if RSS still continues harassing the NGOs, then withdraw fully from Kutch and appeal all the foreign funding agencies to stop all the help. It was also decided to appeal to ADB to cancel its agreement with Gujarat government of granting a huge loan for rehabilitation work. Sushma agreed that before the above decision is implemented, a meeting with ABHIYAN members be held in Bhuj on 6th April.

Another urgent follow up meeting was held at GANTHAR office on the same day at 6.p.m. where it was decided that a delegation of NGOs should go to Bhuj on the Friday, 6th April.

Accordingly, about 20 delegates left for Bhuj on 6th at 4.a.m. and after reaching there, a meeting was held at 11.30 a.m. with the members of ABHIYAN and some prominent leaders of Bhuj, including Mr. Shroff, a prominent industrialist and some members of Shrujan, an organization that carries out many development works in Kutch.

During the meeting, it was made very clear that RSS was encroaching upon the Constitutional rights of the citizens to work for the earthquake affected people and that should be condemned out right in the first place. The delegation told ABHIYAN that since it was also part of JANPATH INITIATIVE, it was its duty to confront RSS and create an atmosphere where other NGOs can work peacefully and without any disturbance. The delegation made it very very clear that if ABHIYAN failed to do this we would withdraw ourselves from Kutch and ask all the International Foreign Funding Agencies including ADB to withdraw all the help. The delegation also made it clear that it was not prepared to take any threat from RSS and not at all prepared to have any dialogue with RSS that claims to be the owner of Kutch.

After listening to the delegation and realizing the serious consequences of JANPATH's decision, ABHIYAN requested the delegates to give some time to them for consultation among themselves. After lunch ABHIYAN met the delegates again and expressed their sorrow at what had happened. Mr. Desmukh, a leader of the RSS apologized for RSS's behaviour. The delegation then suggested that they issue a press statement regarding this in KUTCHMITRA daily that the RSS was using to achieve its malicious designs. The suggestion was accepted.

JANPATH INITIATIVE and Sushma, the representative of ABHIYAN met the the Collector and DSP of Bhuj and informed both of them regarding the situation and appealed to them to collaborate in restoring peaceful atmosphere and also communicated to them the decision of the delegation. Two memoranda were also presented to both of them. Both the Collector and the DSP listened to the delegates and informed them that they were aware of the situation and would take firm action against whoever is responsible for creating the trouble.

After this meeting the delegates prepared a joint statement with ABHIYAN to be published in KUTCHMITRA where one important point will be made clear that ABHIYAN is part of JANPATH INITIATIVE that is created to carry out relief works systematically in the earthquake affected areas of Gujarat.

Having completed its mission, the delegation left for Ahmedabad at around 5 pm from Bhuj.

A Hindu sadhu based in Adhoi had a big celebration where other sadhus were presented. They spoke vehemently against the Christian conversion movement and appealed the crowd to oppose it. Apparently these are used by RSS to vitiate the mind of the ignorant rural masses to achieve their political agenda. The could be very dangerous. Fr. William drew the attention of the Collector and the DSP to this also. Both of them said that they were aware of it and would take necessary action regarding it.

Mr. Prasad Chacko (BSC) and Fr. William Macwan (Rishta) were part of the delegation. In Bhuj, no representative was seen from Kutch Vikas Trust or Rajkot Diocese Relief Work Committee which in fact would have been very much welcome in this serious situation.

Source: SACW
Referred by:Balram Sampla
Published on: April 16, 2001
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