Chapter 12: When Shastriji invited Guruji to the All party meeting!
The year was 1965 and the Indian subcontinent was going through a turbulent time due to an all-out war with Pakistan. The severity of the seventeen day Indo-Pak war of 1965 can be summed up by the statement that it was the largest engagement of armoured vehicles and the largest tank battle since World War II.
After Pakistani forces attempted to infiltrate the Indian part of Kashmir, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri retaliated by launching a military assault against the infiltration.
With President S Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Shastri at the helm of the Indian Armed Forces, the infiltration bid was foiled and India emerged victorious with an upper hand at the time of the UN-initiated cease-fire on 23 September 1965. While many stories of bravery and nationalism during that time of war have come to light over the years, this one that is also worth taking note of is perhaps the least known.
At a time when our country was at war, our second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri decided to cut across party lines and invited RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief) Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, also known as Shri Guruji MS Golwalkar, to an All-Party Meet.
Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar or Guruji was the second Sarsanghchalak or the chief of the RSS from 1940 to 1973 (the year of his demise)..
The purpose of the invitation was to task the Delhi Police with more strategic activities and relieve them of their routine duties which were then taken over by RSS workers, says Dr. Harish Chandra Barthwal in his book, The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh: An Introduction.
Barthwal states that upon Shastri’s request, RSS workers also provided food and other essential supplies to soldiers deployed on the war front.
In his autobiography, Lal Krishna Advani hi describes Lal Bahadur Shastri as,
“Unlike Nehru, Shastri did not harbour any ideological hostility towards the Jana Sangh and the RSS. He used to often invite Shri Guruji for consultation on national issues.”
The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 saw the Indian and Pakistani Air Forces engaged in large-scale aerial combat against each other for the first time since the Partition of India in 1947. The war took place during the course of September 1965 and saw both air forces conduct defensive and offensive operations over Indian and Pakistani airspace.
The aerial war saw both sides conducting thousands of sorties in a single month.
Role of RSS in 1965 war–
Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji also remembered the RSS during the war of Pakistan. Shastri urged the police to help control the situation and to take control of Delhi’s traffic in their hands, so that the police personnel, freed from these actions, could be helped to help the army.
The first blood donors to the injured soldiers were the volunteers of the RSS.
During the war, the volunteers of RSS did the task of removing the snow from Kashmir’s airbase.
The enemies were moving forward at a faster pace, Kashmir needed quick military help.
Srinagar received a message from the Army’s office of Delhi that under any circumstances the enemy should not occupy Srinagar airport.
Even if the comflict of Shatru Nagar was won, do not let enemy seize the airport. The troops will be deployed thought the airplane.
“There are heaps of snow all over the airport. It is extremely difficult to land the plane” This counterpoint came from Srinagar.
The army chief instructed them to arrange
labourers no matter what they have to pay for getting the work done.
But there was serious shortage of workers. And available workers too couldn’t reach the spot.
It was eleven o’clock in the night. A military jeep got stuck in ice in front of the RSS office at Srinagar. A meeting of key volunteers was going on in the office. Premnath Dogra and Arjun Singh were sitting there.
The swamyamsevaks helped the ay officer and The officer gave them an account of serious situation. Then he asked them whether they will able to work on clearing the snow at the airport!
Arjun Singh ji said, “Of course, how many people want for help?”
‘At least one hundred and fifty, so that we should be able to clear the snow in 3-4 hours’ said the officer.
Arjun Singh ji replied don’t worry We can give you six hundred workers.
At this time how can they arrange 600 workers Military officer had a serious doubt. Arjun ji said “Arrange the vehicles to take us. Give us 45 minutes we will be ready.”
The method Sangh worked was amazing. When the vehicles came to pick up 600 workers, the ay officer was hugely surprised. Because they were not labourers but they were all Swayamsevaks of RSS.
A message was sent to Delhi- “Snow is being cleared at the airport . The flights can take off anytime now”
Even people at Delhi we’re surprised as how they managed to get labourers to work on the airport.
At around 1:30 in the morning, Swayamsevaks started working.
On October 27th, 329 soldiers of the Sikh regiment landed in Srinagar and they embraced volunteers with great love. After that 8 other aircrafts carrying our soldiers landed at Srinagar airport.
All of them had carried arms. Swayamsevaks helped the jawans to put the weapons on the premises.
Our brave soldiers prevented enemy occupation of Srinagar airport. It brought a great deal of strategic advantage to Indian forces.
The work to widen the runway was to be done instantly, so volunteers started working without resting.
Important point in these incidents is that, it’s been fifty years and the political mudslinging has brought us to a point where a leader or even a former leader of state cannot agree to a bipartisan invitation without stirring a controversy. The only fact this proves is that we, as residents of the world’s largest democracy, have forgotten how to confront opposing ideas with cogent dialogue.political parties behave not in national interest but for their political gains. Both Shastriji and Guruji have left us an example, as to how to overcome differences and work together for national security and In Nation’s interest.
Na phool chadhe,Na deep jale by Neelkanth Deshmukh
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – an introduction by Harish Chandra Barthwal
Dr Sindhu Prashanth