NEW DELHI: In a significant development, senior RSS leaders met at former Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung’s residence as a follow-up to the outreach with members of the Muslim community. Several issues including hate speeches, mob lynchings, bulldozer politics and temples in Mathura and Kashi were discussed in the closed-door meeting.
The RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had first met with five prominent Muslims on August 22 last year.
On January 14, RSS leaders Indresh Kumar, Ram Lal and Krishna Gopal – authorised by Bhagwat to continue the dialogue – met with Jung, former election commissioner SY Quraishi, journalist Shahid Siddiqui and hotelier Saeed Sherwani. Lt Gen (retd) Zameeruddin Shah, who was a part of the Bhagwat meeting, was not present.
The meeting was also significant because it included Muslim scholars from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind and the Darul Uloom Deoband. The religious heads also met with Jung and the other prominent Muslims, a day earlier on January 13, at Siddiqui’s home, to make a list of talking points.
Confirming the meeting, Siddiqui told TOI, “We had another cordial meeting to discuss the continuing polarisation and marginalisation of the Muslim community. We hope to meet again in different cities.” Laeek Ahmed, National assistant secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JEIH) also confirmed the meeting, saying, “Our representative was present. The issue of hate speeches was taken up and the RSS leaders agreed that it gives India a bad name, internationally.
Jung and company took up the issue of Bhagwat’s recent interview with Panchajanya and Organiser. The RSS chief’s comments on Hindus being “at war for over 1000 years,” and the need for Muslims to give up the “rhetoric of supremacy,” led to a political storm. In the January 14 meeting, however, the RSS leaders sought to underplay the remarks, saying, the interview – originally in Hindi – had not been properly contextualised and translated. The leader, apparently read out portions in Hindi.
The most startling discussion in the closed-door meeting was the suggestion from the RSS, that the Muslim community consider handing over the mosques in Kashi and Mathura as a “good will gesture.”
Confirming this, Malik Mohtasim Khan, National Secretary, JEIH, who was a part of the January meeting at Jung’s residence, said, “They brought up Mathura and Kashi in the context Babri Masjid and we reminded them about the court cases. We also asked them, will you stop at three (Babri, Kashi and Mathura) and they said they cannot guarantee anything.”
The meeting that lasted nearly three hours ended with the prospect of taking the outreach forward, through meetings in other cities.