Sangh founder Dr. Hedgewar and his close associate Appaji Joshi remained active in the central India province committee of Congress as its senior members. All important documents were drafted by them only. At that time British government decided to deploy Indian troops in China. In a public meeting of Congress in Nagpur, a resolution placed by Dr. Hedgewar was unanimously passed by all those present. “This gathering appeals to all Indian Nationals to oppose by all justified means any move to use Indian nationals for any military purpose and to register their protest with the government.”
Opposition of Simon Commission and Support to Revolutionaries
During that period of 1928, a commission from the Queen of Britain came to India with some bundle of reforms. This commission headed by Simon was opposed all over India.
This protest was unprecedented. Agitations in the central province and its adjoining areas were being directed and controlled by Doctor Ji. Decisions of strikes and protests were taken in Banaras convention of Congress. Dr. Hedgewar used all his energies to make the movement successful. A major group of Swayamsevaks and their supporters joined the protests against the Simon Commission. Swayamsevaks continued to participate in the movement led by Congress leaving aside their institutional affiliation.
In Lahore this agitation was led by Lala Lajpat Rai. Slogans of go back Simon Commission and foreign rule Murdabad echoed at Lahore railway station. Protestors were brutally beaten by the British Authorities in which Lala Lajpat Rai was fatally injured, who later succumbed to his injuries. To avenge the death of Lala Lajpat Rai, Sardar Bhagat Singh and Rajguru fired upon police officer Sanders and killed him who was responsible for that brutal cane charge. Two revolutionaries then fled Lahore. Rajguru reached Nagpur and met Dr. Hedgewar. Rajguru was a close acquaintance of Doctor ji. He arranged his stay and food etc. at the farm house of Bhayyaji Dani, who was a close associate of Doctor ji. Rajguru was warned about his arrest if went to his house in Pune.
Rajguru ignored the warning and went to his house in Pune. He was arrested and was charged along with Sardar Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev. All the three revolutionaries were sentenced to death and hanged. Dr. Hedgewar was deeply hurt but was not surprised. He told his friends that their sacrifice would not go in vain. His sympathy, concern and participation with armed revolutionaries continued despite his busy schedule with Sangh. He continued to help them by all means.
All Sangh Shakhas observed Independence Day
It is a historical fact that Indian National Congress founded by AO Hume, never talked about complete freedom of the nation from its inception in 1885 to 1929. Congress had got limited with the idea of Swaraj (not Swatantra) that too under British imperialism and under colonial rule. But in the All India Convention held at Lahore in December 1929, resolution seeking complete independence was passed. Dr. Hedgewar welcomed this step publicly. To express happiness with Nehru’s call of celebrating Independence Day on 26th.January, 1930, in all provinces, Doctor ji directed celebrations all over India especially, in Sangh Shakhas.
Decision of celebrating Independence Day all over India by Congress and RSS became a historical document. Dr. Hedgewar in his communication to all Shakhas had written “This year Congress has set the target of achieving independence for the nation and has declared 26th January, 1930 to be celebrated as Independence Day. All RSS Shakhas should celebrate this day by arranging public meetings in each Shakha at 6 PM and comply with the guidelines given. In the speeches to be addressed to the Shakhas, clarity about complete independence and its objectives should be given. As Congress has accepted complete independence and its objectives, Congress leaders should be greeted in the meetings.”
After receiving the directions, RSS activists planned different programmes. On 26th January, 1930 programmes started with prayers in front of Bhagwa Dhwaj, followed by singing of nationalist and patriotic songs, route marches (path sanchalan) were also performed. Every Shakha celebrated the day in full uniform and with distinguished people of the society. In the speeches, a pledge was taken to continue struggle till complete independence is achieved.
When Many Hindu Organisations Merged With RSS
Some pleasant results were seen by associating with freedom struggle. Having inculcated values of patriotism, discipline and commitment to their duties, Swayamsevaks from Sangh Shakhas were like polished gems which distinguished themselves in any organization fighting the cause of freedom movement even when they kept their identity of Swayamsevak in low profile. In Akola (Maharashtra) a convention of Hindu youth, ‘Akhil Maharashtra Tarun Hindu Adhiveshan’ was held. This convention to create reawakening among Hindu society had blessings of many Hindu leaders of Central province. Dr. Hedgewar also reached there along with some of the Sangh officials.
In the convention Doctor ji had detailed discussions with leaders like Shivaji Rao Patwardhan, Masoorker Maharaj about Sangh ideology, working and aims. Dr. Hedgewar told them that workers of different organisations could also receive training in RSS Shakhas, while continuing with their own organisations. Close and personal touch of Dr. Hedgewar with these leaders resulted in good results in time to come.
Many young people who participated in this convention started coming to Shakhas. Many of the leaders were made chief guests in Sangh functions. One of the senior leaders, Panchlegaonker, was heading an organisation Mukteshwer Dal. After being impressed by the workings and objectives of RSS, he merged his Dal with the RSS. Youth of several small and other organisations joined Sangh after being impressed by leadership qualities and impersonal skills of Dr. Hedgewar.
Continuous expansion of RSS Shakhas particularly growing attraction among youth to join RSS, alarmed British authorities. They started reporting about activities of RSS to higher authorities. These reports mentioned Dr. Hedgewar was a rising Hindu leader and about commitment of Swayamsevaks towards freedom movement.
…………………..to be continued
(Writer is senior journalist and columnist)