Fears of Kashmiris about loss of land and jobs should be allayed, he says

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat at a meeting on Tuesday with 80 journalists representing 50 organisations from over 30 countries said the RSS was against all forms of violence and in a specific comment on incidents of lynching said the organisation would “disown any swayamsewak found guilty of such an act”. It was an interaction that lasted over two and a half hours and covered topics ranging from the recent abrogation of the special status of J&K to homosexuality and caste-based reservations.

The interaction was restricted to foreign journalists and Mr. Bhagwat was accompanied by RSS second in command Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi, joint general secretaries Manmohan Vaidya, Krishan Gopal, northern region incharge Bajran Lal Gupt and its Delhi unit head Kulbhushan Ahuja.

“This interaction was part of the continuous process where the ‘Sarsanghchalak’ [chief] engages in constructive dialogue with people from different walks of society,” said an official statement put out by the RSS. While the statement did not go into the content of the discussion, sources present at the meeting said it covered almost all aspects of contemporary discourse.

Mr. Bhagwat reportedly told his audience that the abrogation of J&K’s special status would help “integrate” the people with the rest of India, and added that whatever fears they had about loss of land and jobs should be allayed.

He also came out in strong support of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill saying Hindus had no place of succour other than India. The Bill proposes to grant citizenship to those people hailing from the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Parsi religions who were fleeing persecution from India’s neighbouring countries.

Mr. Bhagwat advised the journalists to “believe in what you see” and not to judge the RSS on the basis of propaganda, adding that the RSS was working everyday to demolish propaganda against itself. Much of what he spoke of, including that the organisation views homosexuality as a “variation” rather than an abnormality, had been mentioned by Mr. Bhagwat in his three- day lecture series at the Vigyan Bhawan last year. He did however briefly comment on the handling of the economy, albeit after a declaration that he was “no expert” but that there was “no paralysis as under the 10 years of UPA” and that the rest of it was part of a process.

The meeting started with a brief introduction given by Mr. Bhagwat followed by a question-and-answer session covering a wide range of issues across the spectrum, according to the statement.

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