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Akhand Bharat to shakha: RSS fields foreign press’ queries

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat’s bid to reach out to the foreign press on Tuesday came in the aftermath of a volley of intense criticism the organisation faced after German Ambassador Walter Linder visited its headquarters in Nagpur in July 17. But this interaction also follows as it became mindful of efforts by Pakistan to portray it as a “militant outfit”.

Bhagwat met a slew of correspondents from the foreign media here on Tuesday to put forth what the RSS is all about and the activities its cadres take part in. A journalist of Indian origin who attended the event had this to say about the event: “The speech was more or less an ‘about us’ of RSS. He (Bhagwat) elaborated about the concept of shakhas and what people do there.”

The journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said that the RSS made its stand clear on religion and the religious intolerance it is often accused of.

Many prominent international publications took part in the event. About 80 members of the foreign press from across 30 countries were in attendance.

Though RSS’s media publicity cell chief Arun Kumar called this meeting as “part of a continuous process where the Sarsanghchalak engages in constructive dialogue”, in actuality it was more than that.

Bhagwat took a number of questions from the media contingent. While some of them were as basic as the role the RSS plays in policy decisions, some were about its concept of “Akhand Bharat” (Undivided India), the journalist told IANS.

There was one basic rule that RSS set for the interaction – that it would be off camera and off record. Which means nothing of what was discussed inside the auditorium can be recorded or even attributed to any one present. The session lasted for more than two-and-a-half hours.

Another journalist from a foreign radio network told IANS: “We have been requested to keep the contents of the discussion under wraps. But all I can say is he (Bhagwat) projected what he believes RSS is for and took questions liberally.”

Apart from Bhagwat, RSS leaders such as Sahsarkaryavah Manmohan Vaidya, Krishna Gopal, and Bajrang Lal Gupta, who is the head of the north India division, were present.

Tuesday’s move came after a slew of foreign media criticised German Ambassador Linder for visiting, what they called, a “fascist” organisation.

Turkey-based TRT World had called the RSS a “powerful Hindu far-right group”. The Jerusalem Post had published a news story after the much talked about visit, with the headline “German Ambassador causes outrage by visiting fascist Indian group”.

The RSS has always been a closed organisation, though Bhagwat refutes this. There is not enough public knowledge on the working style of the RSS and what happens inside it’s offices in Nagpur or Delhi’s Jhhandewalan. The closely guarded organisation has always evoked curiosity among many, particularly the foreign press and Tuesday’s meeting was primarily intended to “dispel misconception” about it.




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