New Delhi, September 22
In yet another outreach to the Muslim community, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today visited Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, the chief of the All-India Imam Organisation.
Part of ‘samvad’
The sarsanghachalak meets people from all walks of life and today's meeting was part of the continuous general ‘samvad’ process. — Sunil Ambekar, RSS Prachar Pramukh
The RSS described it as part of its “routine meetings with different sections of society”. However, given the current circumstances, the meeting is an important development. Though Sangh leaders regularly hold meetings with members of different communities, this is perhaps the first time Bhagwat visited a mosque to meet the Imam in his office.
Sangh leaders believe some political parties are “deliberately misinterpreting the organisation and undermining its work to get votes of Muslims. All this has resulted in apprehensions in the community about the RSS, which Sangh leaders want to allay.
“The Sangh also wants to be seen reaching out to the Muslims,” said observers after the surprise hour-long closed-door meeting at Kasturba Gandhi Marg mosque that followed Bhagwat’s meeting with a group of Muslim intellectuals last month. The RSS chief, who met Ilyasi in his office in the mosque, was accompanied by senior functionaries Krishna Gopal, Ram Lal and Indresh Kumar.
Former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, who was among the group of five Muslim intellectuals who met Bhagwat on August 22, said Bhagwat’s visit to the mosque today was “a confirmation of what he had said (at the meeting)”.
“Bhagwat ji told us that he understands our concerns and wants to remove any sense of insecurity. He told us that one cannot even think of a Hindu Rashtra without Muslims,” he said. Referring to him as ‘rashtra pita’ (father of the nation) and ‘rashtra rishi’ (sage of the nation), Ilyasi was all praise for Bhagwat.
“We believe the nation comes first. Mohan Bhagwat visiting us is a privilege. He is our ‘rashtra pita’ and ‘rashtra rishi’,” he said.
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