Exhorting Hindus and Muslims to believe in “dialogue, not discord” as a solution to Hindu-Muslim conflict, Bhagwat said, “We believe in Hindu rashtra. We worship the cow. But any Hindu who indulges in lynching goes against the principles of Hindutva… The inquiry has to be impartial because there are false cases filed. The law has to take its course,” he said.
Bhagwat was speaking after launching Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed’s book ‘Meeting of Minds’, at Mewar Institute in Ghaziabad, at an event organised by Hindustan First, Hindustani Best, linked to the Muslim Rashtra Manch, that is mentored by RSS senior leader Indresh Kumar.
Apart from Bhagwat, senior RSS leaders Krishna Gopal and Ram Lal and minister of state VK Singh were also present. The author is part of a Muslim intellectuals group called India First and runs Inter-Faith Harmony Foundation.
The RSS chief said politics cannot bring Hindus and Muslims together. “Only society can. But people like us know that politics can influence the process. The Sangh does not take part in electoral process but we will go against anyone who is against national interest, and support anyone who works in its favour,” Bhagwat said.
“Whenever Hindus indulge in violence against Muslims, it is voices from the Hindu community that speak against that. Now, nobody can talk about Hindu dominance or Muslim dominance, it is only dominance of Indians now.”
Bhagwat reiterated that anyone living in the country was a Hindu as everyone shares cultural similarities and has the same forefathers. “Hindu Rashtra is not a nation of people wearing tilaks…it has a deeper meaning… If you don’t like the word, don’t call yourself a Hindu. Call yourself Bharatiya. Our motherland is what unites us.”
Ever since Islam came to India, efforts have been made to address conflicts between the two communities, he said, citing the examples of Ramdas Swami, saint Tukaram and Guru Nanak. “But everyone who came here was absorbed. There was no change in the way they dress or pray… We have had diversity in this country even before Muslims came. So, we are used to it. That is why I tell Muslims to break the circle of fear that there is danger to your religion here. You have freedom to pray the way you want… The country provides you constitutional protection to safeguard your rights.”
Denying that his participation in a Muslim Rashtriya Manch event was an “image makeover” exercise for the RSS, Bhagwat said the Sangh has never been bothered about its image. “We have been the same since 1925. Our intentions are pure. I know everyone will benefit from it.”
“This is not an attempt to get Muslim votes either. I saw this book and immediately said I will launch it. One person said if I do this, it will weaken the Hindu Samaj. I told him when the people in the minority community are not weakened by it, why should he, as part of the majority, feel this way? People like him cannot be unifiers. We have to remove mistrust in people and a united society is important for national growth.”
He said the term
Hindu Muslim Ekta is misleading because they are one. “It is only when they think they are separate they are in trouble. Our DNA is the same and the unity we have is because of our shared cultural roots, not politics. This land can feed us all. But in the future, it can be a challenge which we have to think about.”
Author Ahmed urged the Sangh Parivar to understand many sensibilities that are important to Muslims. “For us, our faith is very important. We see often tenets of the Quran are taken out of context and misinterpreted. This also deepens mistrust. We can’t leave our faith. You have to accept that. We believe in
nirakar or formless. You will have to understand that. If there is something that I remain uninvolved with, you must let it be. Our religion has dos and don’t,” he said, adding that fringe elements from both communities are dangerous for the country.
Calling PM Modi the most decisive leader in the history of India who doesn’t believe in retreats, Ahmed said, “Sangh and its ideology of Hindutva is a reality today. The relationship between Sangh and Muslims is not of trust, but the RSS chief agreeing to launch the book itself is a historic move. Dialogue is better than deadlock.”
Claiming that the foundation that the RSS has laid down will not change regardless of BJP’s electoral performance in the coming years, Ahmed said today Muslims are being forced to prove our patriotism.
“This is very hurting as we are all the same family. Honesty is important. Secular regimes have failed us. Secular politics has reached a dead end. They (BJP) have come after many years and they are here to stay…Now is the time we finally should start understanding each other.”
A video was shown with messages from Swami Chiddanand Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, and Swami Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhada, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Congress leader Karan Singh, Syed Ghulam Kibria Dastagir of Ajmer Sharif and others, all endorsing Hindu-Muslim unity.