RSS and its dubious existence: Has BJP’s ideological mentor existed illegally till now?

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Is Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh registered organisation? Over the years many people asked this question and a proper satisfying answer was never given by RSS. On 23 July 2016, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh told journalists in Goa, “There is no question of banning an unregistered organisation. Number of times you ask for a ban on RSS, you know RSS is not a registered organisation”.

Neither the RSS nor its political wing, the BJP, ever responded to such a criticism which was really strange in the prevailing political atmosphere in the country. Now it is time finally ask the question: Is RSS a registered organisation? If not, how are they collecting money? What is the legality of an unregistered organisation running its military training branches along the length and breadth of the country by the name of Shakhas and calling itself a cultural organisation?

Let us concentrate on the first question. Is RSS a registered organisation? If yes, when and where? Under which law? A WhatsApp message “RSS is already a registered organisation with registration number 08-D 0018394. The digit code of registration is 94910. The registration has been issued under section 1860 of Indian Government and Society Registration Law 1950” recently went viral on right-wing WA groups and later found its way in to Twitter. But this message was a misleading. Let us check why?

Janardhan Moon is a retired school teacher, social activist and a former corporator from Nagpur, where RSS is headquartered. In 2017 April, he raised few questions through his publication, Nagrik Haq Samrakshan– roughly translated as Protection of People’s Rights/ Civic rights– on the RSS and sent it to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Moon wanted CM to initiate action against RSS if found guilty.

The seven questions were: 1) Doesn’t RSS need any registration? 2) Is RSS an organisation, an individual, a company or something else? 3) What is the source of funding for the 56,000 shakhas (branches) of RSS? 4) what is the source of funding for its annual festivities and various other programmes? 5) How is it that crores of Rupees from taxpayers money spent on RSS chief Mohan Bhagawat’s security? 6) The Mahal based property of RSS belongs to one Mr. M D Devras. Why CIFS is guarding it? 7) Government of India has recently made some changes to the… in which of these categories RSS fit in to?

Maharashtra CM’s office promptly forwarded this to the office of Joint Charity Commissioner, Nagpur for them to verify the allegations especially about the registration. Joint Charity Commissioner’s office in Nagpur replied to Janardhan Moon the following:

According to official records with references to these letters, the organisation named RSS is not registered at Nagpur Charity commissioner’s office. Hence no action can be taken as per the application dated 24/05/2017.

Janardhan Moon and his group filed an online application on 28 August 2017 with the same office to form a new public charitable society under section 20 of the societies registration act 1860 in the name Rashrtiya Swayamsevak Sangh and their application was accepted as there was no other organisation registered there in the same name and their service request number (SRN) was NGP/21606/1860/17.

The matter took quite an interesting turn when when a person named Advocate Rajendra Gundalwar (on behalf of RSS, it was said) opposed the issuance of the name Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to anyone else as such a name is already registered as a ‘religious organisation’ under section 1860 of Indian Government and Society Registration Law 1950 in Chandrapur.

He gave the registration number 08-D 0018394. The digit code of registration is 94910, as freported by Times of India Nagpur Edition. When questioned, why the RSS was not filing the audited financials and its activities since it was a registered body, Gundalwar reportedly claimed that religious organisations were exempt from it!

But the most intriguing thing here was that the office of the charity commissioner informed the applicant Janardhan Moon that an organisation with the name Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was not registered and the name was, therefore, available. But, the RSS representative opposed this assertion. Local news website Nagpur Today even published Gundalwar’s opposition in detail along with the letter he had submitted.

The office of the charity commissioner rejected his application citing Gundalwar’s letter. Moon and four other people opposed the decision arguing that, if such a name was already registered, why there was no mention of such a name in the registered list? And how did his online application to register a society in the name of RSS was accepted in the first place?

Upset with the refusal of Joint charity commissioner Mrs Karuna M Patrel to register his society in the name of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Janardhan Moon and his group, in October 2017,  filed a writ petition in Nagpur bench of the Mumbai High Court. The court sent notices to the parties and, according to Moon, no answer has been given by the parties concerned till date. When asked why he hasn’t pursued the case for nearly nine months, Moon said that he and his group were busy with other social activities and organising the first anniversary of their own RSS and will take it up after 12 August this year.

Since his application has been accepted and the office of the joint charity commissioner has given in writing on behalf of Maharashtra CM’s office that they cannot take any legal action against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh aka RSS as it is an unregistered organisation, Janrdhan Moon and his group started to use the name, the RSS, openly in their visiting cards and letterheads. He even used one such letterhead (see below) to send a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the president of India informing them that how the Nagpur headquartered RSS was “illegally” operating without any registration and accountability and hence his group has registering their organisation in the name of the RSS.

He urged them to take legal action against the non-registered entity called the RSS, currently headed by Mohan Bhagwat. Moon told Janta Ka Reporter that his letters went unanswered. He even cautioned former President Pranab Mukherjee on his decision to attend the RSS event asking him not to give legitimacy to an illegal organisation by attending its functions.

Janta Ka Reporter’s repeated calls to the listed phone numbers of the charity commissioner’s office (0712 2565350 / 2544991) went unanswered and Rajendra Gundalwar’s mobile number remained constantly switched off or not available

Meanwhile, a simple check in the NGO Directory and Data List shows that out of the registered and currently active 6381 NGOs / Charitable Trusts / Charitable Societies in Maharashtra there are 13 whose name starts with Rashtriya and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not one of them. Also, Rajendra Gundalwar’s argument of religious NGOs being exempt from disclosing audited income and expenses and their operational activities make no sense. This link will be helpful to understand why.

On this, the silence of the RSS and BJP is so telling. It points to the possibility of the RSS brazenly operating all these years illegally and without any accountability. The more curious question arises from the answer given by Maharashtra Chief Minister’s office through the joint charity commissioner office in Nagpur is: If a group of people float an organisation without registering it and indulge in illegal activities under the cover of religious and charitable work, is our existing laws insufficient to act against them? That sounds too dangerous and scary. And amazingly, the RSS still operates without any registration and accountability after 70 years of independence!!

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