RSS gets ride on DU train

Pracharak briefs students going on educational tour

Days before nearly 600 Delhi University students left on a study tour of the Northeast on Thursday, they had been given the RSS take on the region’s history by the organisation’s joint general secretary Krishna Gopal.

In a packed DU auditorium on December 7, Gopal spoke about Hindu mythology linked to northeastern states and rendered his own version of the region’s history.

His briefing ahead of the annual educational train trip on Gyanodaya Express has raised concern among a section of the students over the ‘interference’ of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the affairs of the university.

Before such trips in the past, students have been briefed by ‘domain experts’, usually academicians.

Gopal has worked as a pracharak for the RSS in the region, but many are unwilling to see him as an expert. DU says the decision to organise a trip to the Northeast was inspired by the PM’s inclination to connect with the region.

“We received a message from the ministry (HRD ministry) to focus on the Northeast as part of PM’s overall policy to connect with the Northeast,” Professor Chandreshekhar, chairman of the committee told Deccan Herald. But calling the RSS leader was the university’s own decision.

 “He told that Lord Krishna’s wife Rukmani belonged to an Arunachal tribe. And he also narrated how a Naga princess intoxicated Arjuna and induced him to take her for his wife,” Rohit, a Deshbandhu College student who attended the lecture, said.

His lecture was part of a two-hour long orientation programme. Gopal conjured up tales from the Mahabharata while talking about marriage alliances between Aryan and non-Aryan peoples, students said.

“He talked about how all Indian states are part of one motherland and how cultural linkages are strengthened by blood relations,” said a member of the Gyanodaya committee, who didn’t wanted to be named.

Sources say the top RSS functionary has delivered five lectures in the university in the last four months.

Gopal has served as kshethriya pracharak (regional organiser) of Assam and Mizoram for nine years before being promoted to sahsarkaryavah (joint general secretary) level. He became RSS pointperson in the BJP in October.

“He wields a considerable influence in the BJP's rank and file. In fact, the student projects and itinerary of the trip was tweaked to suit one individual,” a DU official said.

Students spoke about the special emphasis given to study of history, myth and folklore of the region in their projects during the trip. 

According to the DU media coordinator and Joint Dean of Welfare, Malay Neerav, a total of 65 projects will be undertaken. Students have been divided into groups of 10 each supervised by one mentor.

“We have been asked to visit as many temples as possible,” Rinki Sinha, a second year student of Kalindi College, said. For example, students visiting Assam will go to Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Umanand Temple Island, Shiva temple at Barpeta Satra, the student added.

Gyanodaya project is an initiative of DU Vice Chancellor Dinesh Singh. In the fourth year of its journey, the train has already travelled to Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the past. 

The train with students from 56 colleges was flagged off by the Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha. It will return on December 29.

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