Mid Day, 7 March 2009
by Anil Thakraney
Mumbai: Shri Ram Sene leader Pramod Mutalik wants to 'cleanse' India. And he's more than willing to knock on your door if you won't listen to him. A medieval man stuck in a new age India, with a warped sense of history and ideology? Or, a mischief monger out to gain power and fame at all costs? You decide
At the Oscar awards ceremony, A R Rahman said he always had the choice between love and hatred. And that he always chose love. And look where it got him. Shri Ram Sene leader Pramod Mutalik, on the other hand, always chose hatred.
Hatred against other religions, "loose and forward women", pubs, dating, Gandhiji, western nations, it's a long list. And guess what? He isn't doing too badly for himself. A single attack on a little known pub in sleepy Mangalore has catapulted him into a global celebrity.
I meet the fire spewing man at his "friend's house" in Mangalore. Perhaps because the Ram Sene's office faces closure; there are 45 criminal cases registered against Mutalik.
And he's literally on the run in his Maruti Swift, with negligible security cover. I am welcomed warmly with folded hands, graciously offered tea and lunch, Mutalik is all smiles, and I almost feel I am catching up with a long lost uncle.
Till he opens his mouth, that is.
Sir, what is Shri Ram Sene's staff strength? How many people have signed up?
We started the organisation three years ago. We have 68,000 members in Karnataka and we are looking for new memberships from April this year. My people visit villages and towns to seek new memberships. Actually, the media has helped make us a national name (smiles). So on March 29, we have called for an all India meeting in Delhi. We have already received enquiries from nine states. We want to make Shri Ram Sene an all India organisation.
So in one year you will be a national leader?
What is your long-term vision for the Sene?
I want to build a Hindu rashtra. A nation where everyone lives happily, peacefully and does not starve.
For that, you will have to join politics. For real change, you need to be in power.
You are right. But Jana Shakti is powerful too, it can shake politics. So we want Shri Ram Sene to operate non-politically.
When you say 'Hindu rashtra', what happens to other communities like the Muslims, the Christians, the Sikhs, the Parsis, etc?
Hindu rashtra is too vast. There will be no divisions, it's an ideology, a principle. Hindu rashtra will include all other communities as well. They are also ours. We want to take them along.
But you recently said you are planning suicide squads amongst the Hindus.
No, I meant fighting for the country, that's our dharma. It's about desh bakhti, not about killing others. That's why we have created a Rashtra Raksha Sena.
And how will it operate?
We will not take the law into our own hands, we will not wield weapons.
So it will operate non-violently?
Which means you are a fan of Gandhiji's ways.
No. In Karnataka alone we have nabbed seven terrorists and handed them over to the state government. Our job will be to tip-off the police and the state home ministry about illegal activities and anti-national activities. We will wait for them to take action. And if they don't, we will handle it ourselves.
Through non-violent means?
No. There can be violence. We have to stop anti-national agents at all costs.
Have you lost faith in the governments of the state and the nation?
Yes, we are losing faith in politicians. They are going in the wrong direction. Some politicians are helping terrorists! You saw what happened in the Batla House encounter.
They killed two terrorists and arrested one. And Amar Singh gave Rs 10 lakh to that terrorist! He also called the encounter a fake. These politicians are helping terrorists and the law and order machinery has become helpless. We have had 300 terror attacks against the nation.
So you will flush out the terror suspects if the government doesn't act.
Yes, we will attack them, arrest them, and hand them over to the police.
That's like an encounter. Are your boys prepared?
Yes, we will face it.
So you will have to arm your boys with weapons.
When the moment comes, we'll plan the action.
By equipping them with guns?
May be. We are training our people to handle any situation. They will take those decisions on the spot. They will do anything in the interest of the nation.
Where are your training camps located?
In the jungles and villages. We are teaching them karate and yoga. We are training them physically, mentally and ideologically.
Er, you will fight AK 47s and bombs with karate and yoga?
Each member is a bomb in himself.
Are you still aligned with the RSS?
I have always been an RSS Swayamsewak. RSS doesn't belong to any one individual, it belongs to the people. We have an unbreakable bond with them.
Then why did you launch a separate wing?
We had a difference of opinion. I do not want a compromise on Hindutva. They have compromised it by launching a Rashtriya Muslim Manch. They want to take Muslims along, with love and affection. I believe we should not take the lead, they (the Muslims) should come forward. You know, Gandhiji showed so much love to Muslims, what happened in the end? The nation got partitioned. Even Mohammed Paigambar did not love the Muslims as much as Gandhiji did.
What exactly is your problem with Indian Muslims?
Muslims out here were not Muslims originally. They were converted. They were Hindus originally. I want them to return and embrace Hinduism. They are Hindus in reality!
Isn't that a generalisation?
They were all converted, all Muslims in India were Hindus before, and I assure you of that. They were converted by people like Mohammed Gazni, Mohammed Ghori, Akbar, Babur and Aurangzeb. Even now there are attempts going on to convert Hindus.
Do you support Nathuram Godse?
But he killed the Father of the Nation.
I don't regard Gandhi as the Father of the Nation. Godse killed him because Gandhi divided this nation, leading to the formation of Pakistan. Gandhi sat on a fast till our money, Rs 55 crore, was given to Pakistan. Godse feared Gandhi would convert what's left of this nation into Pakistan as well. That's why he killed him.
If you were around at the time, you would have killed Gandhiji too?
Yes, one hundred per cent! I would have killed Nehru as well.
Why did you break away from the Shiv Sena?
Because they started dividing people on language and borders. That I did not want. This language divide is making the nation weaker.
Bal Thackeray was your boss once.
Not boss. We had joined hands with them on the idea of a Hindu rashtra. Once the language issue happened, we left them.
What if the Shiv Sainiks don't allow you to enter Mumbai?
No, no, that won't happen. Balasaheb Thackeray has appreciated Shri Ram Sene for its recent efforts. We have their support.
Your Valentine's Day agitation in Bangalore flopped. Thackeray said so.
(Shouts.) It was a huge success! 75% of the celebrations stopped because of us. Only two or three pubs were open. Valentine's Day was a total failure.
When's the next agitation? New Year's Day?
Definitely! We will stop it. All over India. We will organise programmes on desh bhakti on that day so people can attend those.
Next. Define Indian culture.
Our women are talented, and we should encourage them. But nudity, dancing and drinking liquor is not our culture. Also, it's not just drinking, there is a drug and sex mafia behind all this. It's an international conspiracy to destroy Indian culture. These western countries are behind this conspiracy. They introduced the pub culture into India. They brought AIDS, orphanages and old age homes, which is not part of our culture. Our culture upholds family values. In the US and England, 32% of pregnant girls are unmarried teens.
How will you stop all this? Girls working in the IT parks of Bangalore deal with global citizens, socialise with them, that is their work and lifestyle.
We will oppose all this. If women drink at pubs, they will destroy the Indian samaaj. We will put pressure on the central and state governments to shut down all pubs. To ban wine.
The problem is if you ban drinking in public places, youngsters will meet in empty flats to drink, and naughtier stuff will happen. Then what will you do?
(Hesitates.) I accept what you say. But we will stop that too. Parents are becoming more involved. We will educate them with books and through social workers.
You will enter people's homes too.
The Amnesia pub attack. Was your problem that the girls were drinking, or that they were hanging out with Muslim boys?
No, there was no religious issue. It was about girls drinking.
Aren't your boys who carried out the attack disappointed with you when you apologised for the incident?
No. I said sorry because the method used was wrong, but the objective was correct. They are our trusted staffers, they didn't feel bad.
Did you reward the attackers?
Yes. Thanks to them, we are an all-India body today. (Smiles.) They are very happy. I congratulated them for their role.
You will never ask your boys to attack girls again?
No, never. I promise. We will protest, we will complain to the police and the government. What happened in Mangalore was in the heat of the moment. Also, my boys were provoked, as one of the girls showed them her chappal.
One of the girls who were attacked, her mother, Ranjana Shetty, called up to thank us. Because she didn't know till then that her daughter goes to a pub. She congratulated us for having beaten up her girl!
You have good relations with the BJP?
No. They are using Hindutva only for electoral gains. They are more interested in power.
Advani has promised a temple in Ayodhya.
(Agitated.) That's all a big naatak. That's election speech. He will not do it. The BJP has cheated the nation. They used Ram to get into power. The moment they gained power, they left Ram. The Shri Ram Sene will build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. One hundred per cent!
You don't respect Advani?
We used to. But the moment he supported Jinnah, he spoilt our relations.
Churches are being attacked in Karnataka. Do you approve?
The churches are attacked because they are spoiling the name of Hindus. They are converting Hindus and we want to stop this. Let the Christians pray in their churches. Why are they bringing Hindus there? Even Vivekananda and Gandhiji said conversions are wrong. We want conversions to be banned.
You never married. But suppose you had a daughter, and she announced she's marrying a Muslim, what would you do?
I would stop her. It's a wrong thing. I want to tell all Hindu girls of this nation not to marry Muslim boys. And if they won't listen, I will forcibly stop them.
But earlier you said all Indian Muslims were Hindus once...
Yes, so let them come back to Hinduism first.
Are you against the idea of love?
No, love isn't wrong. But dating is wrong. Fixing dates for love is wrong. Love is for every day, every minute, a beautiful thing. People should not abuse it.
So why didn't you marry, if you believe in love?
Marriage is a bandhan. I wouldn't have found time to do all I am doing for the nation.
Lord Ram, in whose name you operate, married too. And he did quite fine.
(Laughs loudly.) He was Lord Ram. I am only Pramod Mutalik! I don't even think about a wife.
You never dated in college? Didn't feel the biological need for a partner.
The need can be there, but not everyone has to fall in love and marry.
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