A wave of indignation has spread through the ranks of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) in Punjab following the death of the the outfit’s state deputy chief Brig Jagdish Gagneja (retd) Thursday.
The anger among the RSS workers is largely directed at the state government, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a part of. In fact, the senior leadership of the party is being questioned as to why the law and order situation in the state was allowed to slide to a point where the RSS could not feel safe even with its own party in power.
Senior members of the RSS cadre refused to come on record to express their feelings but disclosed that ever since Brig Gagneja was shot and went into coma, there has been a feeling of neglect among the cadre who felt that the state government was not doing enough to protect them.
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“It is not a matter of one attack only. There have been several instances on RSS being targeted, whether it be attack on a shakha or the murder of Brig Gagneja. What is the use of our brothers being in power if they are unable to protect us in a state ruled by them? Why do they not speak up and confront the Akalis,” said one senior
Speaking to The Indian Express, Vijay Sampla, state president of BJP and Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, conceded there was despondence among the workers. “It would be wrong to say that only RSS workers are hurt, the BJP workers too are feeling very bad about the manner in which Brig Gagneja has passed away,” he said.
Sampla refuted that there was any feeling of estrangement between the RSS and BJP leadership of the state. ‘We come from the same base. We are all swayamsewaks, so there is no question of any bitterness among us,” he said.
The state BJP chief described Brig Gagneja as a bridge between the RSS and BJP in the state and said he was a simple man who was never seen angry. “Even when we faced any problem in political spheres, he would always help us calmly,” he said.
When asked if the RSS and BJP were satisfied with the manner in which the probe into his murder was taking place, especially due to no results coming, Sampla said that the government decided to hand over the investigation to CBI due to a number of factors.
“The reason was that there were some indications that perhaps the crime had some links with elements across the border or even with Sikh hardliners. The Police has some limitation in this respect and thus the case was handed over to the CBI. It was a demand put forward by BJP also,” he said.
Meanwhile, former state BJP chief Kamal Sharma also condoled the death of Brig Gagneja and appealed to the people of the state to maintain harmony.
Sharma said the attack on Gagneja was a planned act of certain anti-India forces who are trying to create communal tension in Punjab.
Appreciating Gagneja for his contribution to society, Sharma said his death was surely a setback not only for the RSS family but to the state as well.”Gagneja, who retired from Army in 2006, had fully devoted himself to the service of the nation through RSS. His vision to upkeep all sections of the society and bring them in the mainstream, would be remembered by people of state,” said Sharma. He said his lifestyle was so simple that he had turned down the offer of personal security by Punjab Police citing that he never needed it.
Gagneja is survived by his wife Sudesh, daughters Komal, Sheetal and son Rahul.