Be it the Khalistani terrorists, the radical Islamists, the Naxalites or any intelligence agencies of enemy countries, all these secessionists have considered Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to be their biggest enemy. This is because whenever or wherever any kind of anti-national activity has taken place in the country, the RSS Swayamsevaks, unconcerned about their lives, have always stood on the front lines in the fight against terrorism.
In fact, when Punjab was marred with rioting, communal violence and terrorism and the whole province was burning for almost one and a half decades, RSS selflessness in the face of dangers came to the rescue of the people in Punjab. Each and every Swayamsevak fought back with such great valour to save the Sikhs and Hindus that they were soon touted to be one of the biggest enemies by Pakistan backed terrorist groups. The 1989 Moga massacre can be called a repercussion of this sacrifice.
The 1989 Moga Massacre
32 years ago on this day, in what went down in history as one of the bloodiest terror attacks, Khalistani terrorists opened fire at RSS workers who were participating in the daily shakha conducted at Jawahar Lal Nehru Park in Punjab’s Moga district, killing 25 Swayamsevaks and leaving 35 members of RSS injured. A short while later, a powerful bomb, apparently planted by the Khalistani terrorists exploded in the park, which killed a couple and two policemen.
After indiscriminately firing and spraying bullets on everyone, when the Khalistani terrorists attempted to flee, they were confronted by a courageous couple- Om Prakash and Chhinder Kaur. The couple was unarmed, but they fought bravely with the Khalistani terrorists until they shot them dead. A one and a half-year-old child, named Dimple, who was playing near the Nehru Park was also killed in the firing.
Reminiscing what transpired on that deadly day, one eyewitness said that the Khalistani terrorists had asked the RSS Swayamsevaks to take down the Sangh’s flag they hoisted in the Nehru Park during the daily shakha which was being conducted then. The Swayamsevaks apparently refused to bow down to their demands. Enraged by this, the Khalistani separatists started indiscriminately firing at the RSS Swayamsevaks, leaving 25 dead.
Nitin Jain, a young man who witnessed the incident at the age of 10, recalled how the Swayamsevaks, unbothered about their lives ran behind the Khalistanis as they fled. Jain remembered how he too ran behind the terrorists, considering it to be some sort of game. Luckily, some person caught him and sent him home, recalled Nitin Jain.
The Sangh martyrs who lost their lives in the Moga massacre
The Sangh members who died in the dastardly attack were Shri Lekhraj Dhawan, Babu Ram, Bhagwan Das, Shiv Dayal, Madan Goyal, Madan Mohan, Bhagwan Singh, Gajanand, Aman Kumar, Omprakash, Satish Kumar, Keso Ram, Prabhjot Singh, Neeraj, Munish Chauhan. , Jagdish Bhagat, Ved Prakash Puri, Omprakash and Chhinder Kaur (husband and wife), Dimple, Bhagwan Das, Pandit Durga Dutt, Prahlad Rai, Jagtar Rai Singh, Kulwant Singh. Prem Bhushan, Ram Lal Ahuja, Ram Prakash Kansal, Balveer Kohli, Raj Kumar, Sanjeev Single, Dinanath, Hansraj, Gurbaksh Rai Goel, Dr Vijay Single, Amrit Lal Bansal, Krishna Dev Agarwal, Ajay Gupta, Vinod Dhamija, Bhajan Singh, Vidya Bhushan Nageshwar Rao, Pawan Garg, Gagan Beri, Ramprakash, Satpal Singh Kalda, Karamchand and some other volunteers were injured.
Despite the fatal attack, the families of the Swayamsevaks showed great poise and calm. The RSS Sarkaryavah, HV Seshadri appealed to maintain peace at all cost.
RSS’ role in maintaining Hindu-Sikh unity
The ghastly massacre shocked the nation’s conscience to its very depths, however, it could not shake the resolve of the RSS members, who on the very next day of the incident, i.e., on June 26, 1989, re-established a Shakha at the same spot where they lost their 25 brave Swayamsevaks. That day around 100 odd members attended the Shakha. They sang songs like “Kaun Kahanda Hindu-Sikh Vakh Ne, Ae Bharat Maa Di Sajji-Khabbi Akh Ne”, roughly translated as (who says Hindu and Sikhs are different, they are the two eyes of Bharat Mata).
This gave out a loud and clear message to the terrorists that no matter what they do, they cannot disrupt the Hindu-Sikh unity nor can terrorism running in the name of Sikhism break the unity of the people of Punjab.
The irony of this move cannot be lost, because, twice when Muslim League-led mobs besieged it in 1947, the RSS members were the ones who guarded the revered Sikh Shrine ‘Darbar Sahib’ at Amritsar. During the 1984 anti-Sikh riot, the Sangh came out to safeguard the Sikhs. And on 25 June 1989, these RSS swayamsevaks sacrificed their lives against terrorism in Punjab.
Later, the Nehru Park, where the tragic incident occurred was renamed, Shahidi Park. In fact, when the Shakha was organised on June 26, then the Swayamsevaks; had resolved to make a memorial in the memory of those killed in the park.
The foundation stone of Shahidi Smarak was laid on 9th July by the notable RSS pracharak Murlidhar Dattatray Deoras popularly known as Bhaurao Deoras. The memorial was inaugurated by Rajju Bhaiya on June 24, 1990. A memorial committee was also formed to provide assistance to the victim’s families and maintain the memorial. Every year, the committee pays tributes to the victims of the attack on the first Sunday after June 25.
Condemning the brutal massacre of RSS Swayamsevaks by members of the Sikh separatist group, Khushwant Singh, one of the best-known Indian writers of all times, had said that “RSS helped to protect Sikhs during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. In spite of this, the Khalistani terrorists executed the brutal 1989 Moga massacre.
Interestingly, the connection between the RSS and the Sikhs has had a historical context. During the partition of India in 1947, RSS saved the lives of a large number of Sikhs and played a major role in protecting the population of Punjab from the onslaught of the Muslim League-led mobs. It also helped move them to safer places.
After the Moga incident too, the RSS gave out an exemplary message of Hindu-Sikh unity by re-establishing its Sakha at that spot, the very next day of the incident. This step was seen as a big blow to Khalistani terrorism in Punjab.
Now, on the 25th of June every year, a lot of people visit Shahidi Park to pay homage to the RSS martyrs.