Nana ji Deshmukh article on 1984 Sikh mascare.jpg
Nana ji Deshmukh article on 1984 Sikh mascare.

Shamsul Islam

The Indian State may be a modern entity, claiming to be governed by a liberal-secular constitution, but the mindset of its rulers is frozen in the feudal and colonial past. One glaring example is that of bestowing awards or sinecures to its favourites which was common practice with the feudal lords and the British masters when they ruled India. They regularly awarded their henchmen/women with titles like Amir, Rai Bahadur, Salar Jung, Jang Bahadur, Counsellor of the Empress, Khan Bahadur, Grand Knight of Star of India, Sir and hundreds others. The British masters ‘honoured’ Indian rulers or princes of states like Gwalior, Patiala, Nabha, Kapurthala, Pataudi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Nizam, Bhopal etc. with many of these titles for helping the former in crushing the 1857 War of Independence.

Indian Constituent Assembly conscious of this evil of the pre-independence rulers’
culture to patronize anti-people/nation personalities abolished award of titles
under Article 18, which read, “No title,
not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the
State…” There were to be no exceptions. It was strictly followed till 1954
when these were introduced from the back door under the heading ‘civilian
awards’ which Constitution of India prohibited in clear words. It became a
happy hunting ground for favourites of the Indian rulers. The only exception
was 4th PM, Morarji Desai who during his stint as PM (1977-80) suspended
conferment of such awards on the ground that the “availability of such
titles led people to flatter those in power and harmed both government and
society a great deal.” The irony was that Desai was awarded Bharat Ratn

However, Desai was not
off the mark. In a democratic polity where ever person enjoyed the same status,
conferment of these civilian titles only showed the rampaging darbari culture to honour those who were
part of the kitchen cabinets or in good books of the ruling party, family or
alliance. There have been allegations that awards were secured through
lobbying, manipulation and even bought. It was not Congress rulers only who
indulged in such favouritism. This evil continued with a semblance of
transparency, care was taken not to honour people with sectarian and
questionable past. With RSS/BJP government headed by PM Modi in 2014 these
precautions were abandoned.

How this Lakshman Rekha is being violated by the
present rulers will be clear by the declaration of conferment of the highest
national award BHARAT RATN (gem of India) to Nanaji Deshmukh  and the former President of India, Pranab
Mukherjee on January 25, 2019 on the eve of Republic Day. In 2015 Bharat Ratn was conferred to the
Hindutva icon Madan Mohan Malviya. PM welcoming the decision referred to Nanaji
Deshmukh’s stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a
new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages. According to him,

[Nana Deshmukh] personifies humility, compassion, and service to the
downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense”.

Praising Pranab Mukherjee [President of India 2012-17]
he declared that

da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation
selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation’s
growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that
he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna”.

Nana Deshmukh (his proper name) is not alive to thank
Modi’s government but Pranab Mukherjee lavishly thanked the government for this
award. Let us compare the above justifications with the actual facts of history
in connection with these two Bharat Ratns.


According to PM, Deshmukh
was conferred this award because he personified humility, compassion, and
service to the downtrodden. This is neither honest nor complete description of
Deshmukh’s ‘contributions’. He remained a paracharak
(whole-timer) of the RSS throughout his life, remained committed to Hindutva
politics which aimed at converting India into a Hindu State where Manusmriti  would prevail as the law of the land reducing shudras and Hindu women to a sub-human
status. So far as compassion is concerned he justified 1984 massacre of Sikhs
by circulating a document ‘MOMENTS OF SOUL SEARCHING’ on
November 8, 1984, when the carnage was on. Nana Deshmukh in this document
outlined the majoritarian justification of the massacre of the Sikh community
in 1984.

This document was
published in the Hindi Weekly Pratipaksh edited by George
who later became Defence Minister of India in the
NDA regime, in its edition of November 25, 1984 titled ‘Indira Congress-RSS
collusion’ with the following editorial comment:

“The author of the
following document is known as an ideologue and policy formulator of the RSS.
After the killing of Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi) he distributed this
document among prominent politicians. It has a historical significance that is
why we have decided to publish it, violating policy of our Weekly. This document
highlights the new affinities developing between the Indira Congress and the
RSS. We produce here the Hindi translation of the document.”



Deshmukh in his
document ‘MOMENTS OF SOUL SEARCHING’ is seen outlining the
justification of the massacre of the Sikh community in 1984. His defence of the
carnage can be summed up as in the following:

  1. The massacre of Sikhs was not
    the handiwork of any group or anti-social elements but the result of a
    genuine feeling of anger.
  2. Deshmukh did not distinguish
    the action of the two security personnel of Indira Gandhi, who happened to
    be Sikhs, from that of the whole Sikh community. According to his document
    the killers of Indira Gandhi were working under some kind of mandate of
    their community.
  3. Sikhs themselves invited these
    attacks, thus advancing the Congress theory of justifying the massacre of
    the Sikhs.
  4. He glorified the Operation
    Blue Star
    and described any opposition to it as anti-national. When
    Sikhs were being killed in thousands he was warning the country of Sikh
    extremism, thus offering ideological defense of those killings.
  5. Sikh community as a whole was
    responsible for violence in Punjab.
  6. Sikhs should have done nothing
    in self-defence but showed patience and tolerance against the killer mobs.
  7. These were Sikh intellectuals
    and not killer mobs which were responsible for the massacre. They had
    turned Sikhs into a militant community, cutting them off from their Hindu
    roots, thus inviting attacks from the nationalist Indians. Moreover, he
    treated all Sikhs as part of the same gang and described attacks on them
    as a reaction of the nationalist Hindus.
  8. He described Indira Gandhi as
    the only leader who could keep the country united and assassination of
    such a great leader such killings could not be avoided.
  9. Rajiv Gandhi who succeeded
    Mrs. Gandhi as the PM and justified the nation-wide killings of Sikhs by
    saying, “When a huge tree falls there are always tremors felt”, was lauded
    and blessed by Nana Deshmukh at the end of the document.
  10. Shockingly, the massacre of
    Sikhs was being equated with the attacks on the RSS cadres after the
    killing of Gandhiji and we find Deshmukh advising Sikhs to suffer
    silently. Everybody knows that the killing of Gandhiji was inspired by the
    RSS and the Hindutva Ideology whereas the common innocent Sikhs had
    nothing to do with the murder of Indira Gandhi.
  11. There was not a single
    sentence in the Deshmukh document demanding, from the then Congress
    Government at the Centre or the then home minister Narsimha Rao (a
    Congress leader dear to the RSS who later silently watched demolition of
    Babri masjid by Hindutva goons as PM of India in 1992) remedial measures
    for controlling the violence against the minority community. Mind it, that
    Deshmukh circulated this document on November 8, 1984, and from October 31
    to this date Sikhs were left alone to face the killing gangs. In fact
    November 5-10 was the period when the maximum killings of Sikhs took
    place. Deshmukh was just not bothered about all this.
  12. It is generally believed that
    the Congress cadres were behind this genocide. This may be true but there
    were other forces too which actively participated in this massacre and
    whose role has never been investigated. It could be one of the reasons
    that actual perpetrators remain unknown. Those who witnessed the genocide
    were stunned by the swiftness and military precision of the
    killer/marauding gangs (later on witnessed during the Babri mosque
    demolition, burning alive of Dr. Graham Steins with his two sons, 2002
    pogrom of the Muslims in Gujarat and cleansing of Christians in parts of
    Orissa) which went on a burning spree of the innocent Sikhs. This, surely,
    was beyond the capacity of the thugs led by many Congress leaders.[i]


DD Upadhyay when he was at his prime of career in the
RSS and become one of the most prominent ideologues of RSS died a mysterious
death. While travelling in a train, his dead body was found at Mughal Sarai
junction on February 11, 1968. It was alleged that he was murdered by
Communists or Muslim fundamentalists. However, Balraj Madhok, a senior RSS/Jan
Sangh leader who preceded Upadhyay as president of Bhartiya Jana Sangh, leveled
serious allegations in his autobiography against a few of his old colleagues of
RSS/Jana Sangh for conspiring to kill Upadhyay.

to Madhok, “the murder of Deendayal was not undertaken by Communists or
some robber” but,

was killed by a hired assassin…conspirators who sponsored this killing were
those self-seekers and leaders with criminal bent of mind of Sangh-Jan Sangh.”

goes to the extent of pointing fingers towards ex-Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee and Nana Deshmukh as the main conspirators in the murder of Upadhyay.[ii]

to the autobiography, the murder of Upadhyay was planned by those who were kept
out of the leading positions of the BJS by Upadhyay as president. It is to be
noted here that Upadhyay after taking over presidentship of the BJS from Balraj
Madhok in December 1967, had kept out both Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Nana
Deshmukh from important posts.

to Madhok, Upadhyay was murdered because,

was constantly ensuring that ill-reputed people should get no career
advancement in BJS, so that the reputation of the organization is not
tarnished. For this reason some characterless selfish people were finding him a
stumbling block in their path of self-seeking fulfillment.”[iii]

question is whether Nana Deshmukh was awarded Bharat Ratn for these ‘contributions
too.’ It is clear that he was conferred highest civilian award for being a
Hindutva ideologue.


Bharat Ratn to Pranab Mukherjee materialized due to his joining the Hindutva
bandwagon. He had   been a leader of the Indian national Congress,
theoretically committed to democratic-secular India, for more than four
decades, and also occupied the office of the President of India, the highest
constitutional office of the country. Interestingly, his election was contested
by BJP and its Hindutva allies for being a secular candidate. It needs no
reminding that he prospered as a national political leader in the Congress
‘secular’ rule. Before becoming President of India sponsored by Congress he
held posts of finance minister, foreign minister, defence minister, leader of
Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, deputy chairman of Planning Commission in Congress
governments. Of course, all this would not have possible without the patronage
of the Gandhi clan.

got it mainly for being a turncoat who defected to the Hindutva ideology. RSS/BJP
rulers miss no opportunity to declare Congress rule as period of misfortune,
loot and corruption are sponsoring this old Congressman. He is welcome as he
was a ‘good Congressman’ since he kept quite when Sikhs were massacred in 1984,
remained silent when Muslims, Christians and Dalits suffered regular cleansing
campaigns by the Hindutva gangs, stood for neo-liberal policies (in fact, a
prime ideologue of globalization).

got him recognition as the gem of India by the RSS/BJP rulers was his joining
RSS. To make it public, he participated as a chief guest in a major RSS event
at latter’s headquarters (Resham Bagh, June 7, 2018) attended by Mohan Bhagwat
and top brass of RSS. He declared “Today I came here to pay my respect and
homage to a great son of Mother India”. He was referring to KB Hedgewar,
founder of RSS. Shockingly, this ‘great son of mother India’ founded RSS in
1925 to oppose the united freedom struggle for an inclusive India. He did not
join the freedom struggle because it was being fought for an all-inclusive
India and not a Hindu State. He declared minorities, specially Muslims the
enemy of India and not the British rulers. He was a diehard Casteist. He was
inimical towards the Tricolour which had become a National Flag for resistance
to the British 1930 onward.

hated Gandhi as,

“It is clear that Gandhiji worked
constantly with one eye on Hindu– Muslim unity…But Doctorji sensed danger in
that move. In fact, he did not even relish the newfangled slogan of ‘Hindu–
Muslim Unity’.”[iv]

Hindutva icon VD Savarkar led Hindu Mahasabha ran coalition governments with
the Muslim League in 1942 in Bengal, Sind and NWFP when Congress was banned,
the country had become a jail and hundreds of patriotic Indians were being
ruthlessly massacred for daring to carry the Tricolour or unfurl it at house
tops. Hedgewar believed in Hindu nationalism as opposed to Indian nationalism.

was for such ‘contributions’ that Pranab da was praised by the PM Modi as one
whose “wisdom and intellect have few parallels”. Another important
factor could be Pranab’s long association with Ambones who are very close to
RSS/BJP rulers, specially PM Modi. During Congress rule former President of
India was a link between Congress governments and Ambones. This linkage can be
seen in a recent photograph snapped on the occasion of marriage of the daughter
of Anil Amana, brother of Makes Ambani. The posture of Anil makes it crystal
clear; who patronizes whom.


03, 2019.


Madhok, Zindagi Ka Safar—3: Deen Dayal Upadhyay Ki Hatya Se Indira Gandhi Ki
Hatya Tak
[Journey of Life—3: From the Murder of Deen Dayal Upadhyay to the
Murder of Indira Gandhi], pp. 22-23.

[iii]Ibid. 145.

[iv] H. V. Seshadri (ed.), Dr..
Hedgewar, the Epoch-Maker: A Biography
, 61.

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