Sardar Patel Vidyalaya alumni oppose Amit Shah visit

Pheroze L. Vincent

Former students of the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya (SPV), the capital’s crib for children of liberal parents, have written to the management in protest against a scheduled visit by Union home minister Amit Shah to the school on Monday to commemorate Vallabhbhai Patel’s 147th birth anniversary.

In an email to principal Anuradha Joshi and the Gujarat Education Society that runs the Lutyens’ Delhi institution, 237 alumni said: “Particularly in the current climate of polarisation, inviting a political figure of his ilk will make the school vulnerable to criticism and will undermine its ethos, that stands for the Constitution and pluralism. This current climate of hate and violence spewing through the country has been responsible for the flagrant disregard of constitutional values.

“We are a school that encourages questioning, democratic ideals of dissent, argument and debate. We write to you from this place of warmth and the unwavering commitment to democracy that the school has imparted to us.”

“As a senior leader of the BJP — the political front of the RSS — Amit Shah stands in opposition to the ideals of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, that have been inculcated in us by SPV.”

The alumni added: “Despite attempts by the BJP to appropriate Patel in the recent years, it would be prudent to remember that he had banned the RSS in 1948 after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination while he was the home minister. In a communiqué issued on Feb 4, 1948, the Government of India had said it was banning the organisation ‘to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation’. It also said that ‘undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh’ and that several RSS members ‘indulged in acts of violence’.

“The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself, the government had then said.

“In a letter to Hindu Mahasabha leader Shyama Prasad Mookerjee written on July 18, 1948, with regard to Gandhi ji’s assassination, Patel had said that ‘activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of Government and the State’. If this was not enough, on September 11, 1948, Patel made his views explicitly clear when he wrote to M.S. Golwalkar stating that ‘all their (RSS) speeches were full of communal poison’ and that ‘it was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection’….

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