General Cariappa with Guruji Golwalkar in Udupi Vishva Hindu Parishad conference 1969
To malign Indian Army is an opportunity for so called liberals. In addition to that if you can get to malign RSS, it is an added bonus. And if you can do that by adding the spices of fictitious north south divide to help anti-BJP campaign in Karnataka, it is an opportunity of life time. That is what seems to have happened with the news story doing rounds in a section of media that “There was a conspiracy to murder General Cariaappa.” The only lacuna is that the document on which they are relying for this propaganda stands on very flimsy ground.
The news reported under title “RSS Planned To Kill Indian Army Chief – CIA Docs” refers to a CIA classified document released recently that made this incredible revelation. These CIA document also alleges that RSS instigated northern army officers to spread dissension.
The CIA report quoted by the media said, “An attempt to assassinate General Cariappa, Commander in Chief of the Indian Army, was made during the General’s recent inspection tour of East Punjab. Six persons have been sentenced to death in connection with the plot; several high army officers are believed involved.”
“General Cariappa as a South Indian is resented by Sikh officers of the Indian Army. The RSS is capitalising on the North-South rift among army officers, whom informant considers treacherous and unreliable, to spread dissension. Officers from Travancore, Maharashtra and Madras are invariably loyal to General Cariappa.”
The flimsiness of allegation:
CIA has so far released about 13 million pages under the Freedom of Information Act of USA. Not all of these are gospel truths. In fact many of the documents have proved the poor quality of intelligence that the CIA was getting from around the world in the name of ‘Intelligence.’ Particularly in the 1950s and 60s, CIA reports reflect poorly on ground reality. Just to quote one example, according to CIA’s own admission
“The tragedy of our course in Vietnam lies in our refusal to come to grips with those realities in South Vietnam that happened to be decisive from the viewpoint of politics. ... We failed to distinguish a sect from a party, a clique from an organization, a group of intellectuals or politicians with tiny clienteles from a political movement, a police force, officer corps, and set of rich South Vietnamese chaos to a South Vietnamese mistake speak, doubly of the essence. Merchants from a political class. We tended to attribute combination of Communist disruptiveness and reversible ... [without realizing] that those "mistakes" were, so to speak, doubly of the essence.”
“His successor [i.e. General Sir Roy Bucher’s successor, from whom Cariappa took the charge], Lieutenant General K M Cariappa, gives the impression of being vain, temperamentally unstable, and lacking sound military judgement; there is a danger that in attempting to give palatable military advice to the Indian government he may fail to give due consideration to all of the military and political factors involved and that he may use his new position to seek the personal glory that a speedy termination of the Kashmir campaign would provide."
Now those who are spreading the ‘conspiracy theory’, are they ready to accept this assessment of General Cariappa? Gen Cariappa took over as Army Chief on January 15, 1949 from a British Gen Roy Butcher and retired in 1953. The turn of events in Kashmir prove the so called ‘intelligence officer’ who was filing such reports that he had no real assessment of the ground situation and persons. Perhaps that is why Air Marshal (Retd) Nanda, General Cariappa's son, flatly refused to believe in such garbage, when this news first broke out. He said in an interview to a magazine: “I think this is implausible. I’ve never heard about it, quite honestly. And nobody I know has ever heard about it. In 1950, one year into being the commander in chief, he was in good terms with politicians… I can’t think anybody would want to bump him”.
The fictitious North South divide:
According to Alok Bansal, a retired Naval officer and director of India foundation,
“anyone with rudimentary knowledge of Indian Army would know that most army officers go by regimental affiliations and their own caste, religion or region have no impact on their conduct and orientation. General Cariappa, since 1923, was part of Rajput Regiment (a North Indian regiment), and paid great emphasis on regimental loyalty, so much so that before retirement on 14 January 1953, he made a farewell visit to the Rajput Regimental Centre accompanied by his son and daughter.
It is well known that it was a North Indian officer Lieutenant General Nathu Singh, who asked PM Nehru to appoint Gen Cariappa as Army Chief when Nehru felt that British officers must continue for some more time. In fact Field Marshal Cariappa is held in high esteem by all service offices cutting across regional, linguistic and even religious divide. Further, to put the facts straight, no officer of the Indian Army, has ever been sentenced to death in post-independence India for planning a coup.”
The truth beyond doubt:
Contrary to the claim made by the CIA, RSS had great respect for the General and the latter had praised the organisation for its nationalist approach and service to the motherland.
Gen Cariappa had visited the RSS shakha in Mangalore in 1959 and former Editor of Organiser K R Malkani had quoted him as saying, “RSS work is my heart’s work. If Muslims can sing the praises of Islam, what wrong is there if RSS sings the praises of Hinduism? My dear young men don’t be disturbed by uncharitable comments of interested persons. Dr. Hedgewar, the revered founder of this great organisation, has set before you a bright example of selfless devotion to the service of the motherland. Look ahead! Go ahead! This country is standing in need of your services alone.” (Malkani KR, “How others look at the RSS”, Deendayal Research Institute, New Delhi)
On yet another occasion, the General was invited to watch a route march of RSS Ghosh (Band Platoon) and was told that the march would pass from the point at a certain time. He was not very sure but as he heard the sound of the marching tunes and the first file of the RSS swayamsevaks approached at the appointed hour, the General exclaimed: “Oh! Here they come!
The second Sarsanghchalak of RSS the late M S Golwalkar alias Sri Guruji had very cordial relations with the General. In 21 November 1956 they had met at Mysore and discussed the language issue which was the burning issue at that time and Gen Cariappa was very much impressed by Shri Guruji’s frank and patriotic views on the issue. 13 years later, in 1969 Gen Cariappa made it a point to participate in the state conference of Vishwa Hindu Parishad at Udupi in Karnataka. It was at this conference that the saints made a crystal clear statement that untouchability has no place in Hindu religion.
If there was indeed such conspiracy and if RSS was indeed instrumental in spreading North- South divide in Army [apart from the fact that RSS has no reason to do so] would a patriot like Gen. Cariappa maintained such close relations with RSS and allied organisations?
Against this background the reported expose by the CIA document appear to be false, unfounded and preposterous.
The detractors of RSS have unashamedly tried to use the CIA files to paint a negative image of the Army and RSS while spreading the myth of North South divide which was never there. It is not difficult to guess the real masters behind such ugly game. Those who stand benefited by demeaning Indian Army, RSS, those who are interested in dividing India into North and South. Any guess who are they?