Mehdi Hasan: A landslide victory for Narendra Modi's BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), seemed to herald a new era in Indian politics. But how inclusive, how tolerant, is the new Modi-led India?
(archive): Modi! Modi!
Modi (archive): Yes, you can say I'm a Hindu nationalist because I am a born Hindu, I'm patriotic, so nothing is wrong in it.
Mehdi Hasan: India's Prime Minister hails from the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) a hardline Hindu nationalist organisation and the ideological backbone of his ruling BJP party.
Critics blame the organisation for the murder of India's iconic independence leader, and accuse it of neo-fascism and inciting violence against minorities.
Jon Snow (archive): RSS activists have been widely linked with those Hindu mobs who slaughtered perhaps as many as 2,000 Muslims.
Channel 4 (archive): "Everybody attacked us, even the police. They poured kerosene and acid on us and set us on fire."
Mehdi Hasan: So, is communal violence on the rise in Modi's India? And is the world's largest democracy now flirting with fascism? My guest tonight firmly believes that India is a Hindu nation, but insists that his party's Hindu nationalist ideology can be a unifying force.
I'm Mehdi Hasan and I've come here to the Oxford Union to go head to head with Ram Madhav, the National general secretary of the BJP and former spokesman for the controversial RSS. I'll challenge him on whether his brand of Hindu nationalism is compatible with a secular democracy, and I'll ask whether India's minorities are under attack.
Mehdi Hasan: Tonight I'll be joined by: Nitasha Kaul, a Kashmiri novelist, academic, economist and poet, who is an assistant professor in politics and international relations at London's University of Westminster; Gautam Sen, a former lecturer at the London School of Economics, and president of the World Association of Hindu Academicians; and Mehboob Khan, a UK-based journalist of Indian origin, who is currently a presenter at United Nations Radio.
Mehdi Hasan: Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Ram Madhav.
Mehdi Hasan: Thank you so much for coming.
Ram Madhav, can you explain to me why it is that since your party leader Narendra Modi became prime minister in May of 2014 more than 40 leading Indian writers and novelists have returned their awards in protest of what they call a "climate of intolerance", over 100 distinguished scientists have issued a statement denouncing attacks on minorities, and over 100 religious minority groups have launched a nationwide movement to counter what they see as the BJP's onslaught on religious freedom?
Ram Madhav: Many more scientists, many more intellectuals have denounced these efforts in the name of award returning, etcetera, to defame the government and in turn to defame the image of India. You must remember that India is a big country, people can have their views. If you have 36 intellectuals returning their awards, 36,000 intellectuals said, no your step is wrong, your decision, your tactics is wrong, you can have your opinions but returning the awards.
Mehdi Hasan: So your response is to say that they are just defaming India, these are leading figures, some of the most influential award-winning authors, they are all just defaming India.
Ram Madhav: Their, their concerns, their views are appreciated.
Mehdi Hasan: It doesn't sound like you're appreciating them, you just accused them of defaming India.
Ram Madhav: India, India is the country of a 125 crore, 1.2 billion people. People can have their opinions. The method they adopted, returning the awards, given by the people of India, that method was wrong
Mehdi Hasan: In terms of the stats, data from your own Ministry of Home Affairs showed a near 25 percent increase in incidents of communal violence in the first five months of 2015, the news magazine, India Today says looking at home ministry data, it reported there has been "a surge of communally charged incidents in BJP-led states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, violence and attacks are on the up in India, that's your own Government's data.
Ram Madhav: That's totally wrong data you have, first of all ...
Mehdi Hasan: I have, it's your government.
Ram Madhav: You have, I'm giving you.
Mehdi Hasan: You should chat to your home ministry, okay.
Ram Madhav: I, no I tell you, I tell you first of all where you are wrong and I'm telling you.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, please do.
Ram Madhav: Our government is in power for 18 months not 6 months my friend; I give you 18 months data.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Ram Madhav: Eighteen months, in 2014 the number of communal incidents has come down in India.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Ram Madhav: 2014, 2015 data was released by the government yes, two days ago, a few days ago in the Indian parliament, check that data.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, well the national crime records bureau has actually disputed that data, but let's look at a specific issue then. Let's look at the recent controversy over beef, a big controversy. The world's been watching. Beef is of course something many religious Hindus don't eat, don't want others to eat, because the cow is a sacred animal, for them.
Mehdi Hasan: There have been three incidents of Indian Muslims being murdered, lynched by far-right Hindu mobs for allegedly possessing beef or being involved in the "beef market", after the first incident on September 20, your prime minister kept silent for two weeks before finally saying that what had happened was sad and unwelcome. BJP MP Tarun Vijay said lynching a person merely on suspicion is absolutely wrong, because apparently if you have evidence then you can lynch them.
Mehdi Hasan: Sangit Som, BJP lawmaker.
Mehdi Hasan: He dismissed .... BJP lawmaker Sangit Som dismissed the victims, the dead as "cow killers", while another BJP leader threatened to behead people who eat beef. Is it any wonder that the British Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, one man I know, said India is being ruled by a Hindu version of the Taliban.
Ram Madhav: Yes, as you rightly say, one man can say anything.
Mehdi Hasan: But based on these statements, it's a pretty good description.
Ram Madhav: These incidents were condemned in strongest terms. They were reprimanded by the party.
Mehdi Hasan: You condemned them?
Ram Madhav: By the party they were reprimanded by the party, but I must tell you something.
Mehdi Hasan: What's your definition of reprimand?
Ram Madhav: I must tell you something very important, please, you must understand. Beef ban is not a BJP invention in India, you must remember. Beef ban has been there in India for the last 60 years.
Mehdi Hasan: Not nationwide.
Ram Madhav: Not, in 22 States, India is how many states you please tell me.
Mehdi Hasan: Twenty nine, I believe.
Ram Madhav: Twenty nine, out of that.
Mehdi Hasan: So then it's not a nationwide ban then is it?
Ram Madhav: Twenty two states has beef ban, okay, No 1. No 2, you must remember it's not a Hindu -Muslim issue at all.
Mehdi Hasan: Agreed.
Ram Madhav: You are saying Hindus.
Mehdi Hasan: I agree with you, lots of Hindus eat beef.
Ram Madhav: I know, I know, many Muslims. I handle Kashmir affairs, many Muslims in Kashmir don't eat beef, so don't make it into Hindu-Muslim issue.
Mehdi Hasan: And many Hindus do eat beef, so we agree on that, we agree.
Ram Madhav: But the point is we condemned the heinous crimes coming to their people. We did, we did.
Mehdi Hasan: But have you, has the prime minister? Sad and unwelcome is not really a condemnation is it? The prime minister said it was sad and unwelcome
Ram Madhav: That's not true, he said.
Mehdi Hasan: What did he say, you tell me.
Ram Madhav: I condemn those incidents, I condemn that incident. He has asked the state government, not the ... government to ... the culprits.
Mehdi Hasan: The chief, okay.
Ram Madhav: Which the government is doing.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay the chief, you said only a few people. Let me give you a fourth, the chief minister of Haryana State described the lynching as a "misunderstanding".
Ram Madhav: Immediately disowned by the party. He made a clear apology. Why don't you say the other part?
Mehdi Hasan: I'm just wondering why they say the stuff in the first place. Have you reprimanded them?
Ram Madhav: Absolutely.
Mehdi Hasan: What's the punishment?
Ram Madhav: Punishment we, we took the ...
Mehdi Hasan: Do you just sack them?
Ram Madhav: We took the necessary action.
Mehdi Hasan: What was the action?
Ram Madhav: Against them, I will tell you when it's necessary, not necessary now.
Mehdi Hasan: It's a secret, we were so tough on them we can't tell you what we did.
The problem is, it's not just beef, is it? There's an issue with the rhetoric coming out across the board from some ministers.
BJP Minister Giriraj Singh said India's growing Muslim population is a big threat, we have to protect Hindu religion. Senior BJP official Subramanian Swami says a mosque is not a religious place it's just a building, it can be demolished at any time. BJP Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma called a former Muslim president of India "a great nationalist despite being a Muslim". Despite being a Muslim! Do you condemn those views as well?
Ram Madhav: We did ask all of them to. It's not expected of them to say those things.
Mehdi Hasan: Why are they saying them?
Ram Madhav: But, how can I answer what they are saying.
Mehdi Hasan: They're your colleagues.
Ram Madhav: If they're saying, no look at India's politicians' statements; look at what a politician says; look at what some other of them says.
Mehdi Hasan: So we're playing that again, we're back in the playground. Look what they said.
Mehdi Hasan: I'll ask them when they come on the show, I'm asking you now?
Ram Madhav: ... the spectrum.
Mehdi Hasan: They're all bigots across the spectrum, is that the argument? Okay.
Mehdi Hasan: But so many, so many ministers, so many MPs, we've been through just a handful, okay.
Mehdi Hasan: Does the prime minister get tired in his busy schedule having to reprimand ministers and colleagues all the time?
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, your prime minister has been criticised for not criticising strongly enough, for being silent, taking his time to condemn the beef issue etcetera. Some would say we shouldn't be surprised given he's the same BJP politician who was chief minister of Gujarat, after the massacres, the pogroms there of 2,000 Muslims in 2002.
Ram Madhav: Count your numbers again.
Mehdi Hasan: How many?
Ram Madhav: You can't give numbers as you like.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, how many people died?
Ram Madhav: The UPA government, the Congress government in the parliament gave out the figures it is 790 Muslims, 260 Hindus.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Ram Madhav: You cannot quote numbers as you like.
Mehdi Hasan: Fine, 700, I apologise.
Mehdi Hasan: Human Rights Watch, India's national human rights commission, the US State Department denied a visa to him until very recently, as did the UK government, because they all believed that he was either directly or indirectly responsible for those deaths.
Ram Madhav: No, remember, even our human rights commissioner etcetera, accuses the government of some kind of slow reaction, slow response and all. Nobody held him responsible. Even courts did not hold him responsible. But you must remember one thing, for those incidents that have happened in the state, one minister is in jail with 28-year punishment, one minister.
Mehdi Hasan: Maya Kodnani.
Ram Madhav: Maya Kodnani.
Mehdi Hasan: Close ally of Modi, who was filmed handing out swords to people.
Ram Madhav: But you remember in a judicial ... it will punish the guilty but you can't expect everybody to be punished because you don't like him.
Mehdi Hasan: Do you know any other?
Ram Madhav: Judiciary will do its job.
Mehdi Hasan: Do you know in most elected governments?
Ram Madhav: You allow judiciary to do its job.
Mehdi Hasan: In, in most democracies, in most democracies a close ally of the prime minister or minister who was filmed handing out swords to people to murder people, that would reflect pretty badly on the leader of that current government.
Ram Madhav: She is punished for the ....
Mehdi Hasan: And how does it reflect on Narendra Modi?
Mehdi Hasan: After the massacres, he was asked about whether he's sad about the deaths. He said if someone else is driving a car and we're sitting behind, if a puppy comes under the wheel will it not be painful or not. It's natural to be sad. Did he compare thousands of dead people, Muslim and Hindu, to a puppy.
Ram Madhav: No he did not compare, he did not compare. People who do not have any intellectual thinking will say those things.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay. I'm asking, you tell me what it means. You tell me what it means. I'm not an intellectual. It means what it means.
Ram Madhav: It means a simple thing, simple thing to understand: We are so sensitive, even a small creature is harmed we feel sad. If a human is harmed, don't you feel sad?
Mehdi Hasan: Let's go to our panel who have been waiting very patiently to come in. Dr Nitasha Kaul is a novelist, professor of politics at the University of Westminster in the UK.
Nitasha this is silly says Ram. A lot of this is just political point-scoring. People haven't got better things to do. The BJP government is doing well, so we focus on these kind of outrageous statements that have been reprimanded. What's your response to that?
Nitasha Kaul: First of all let me say that my numbers are correct, and I'm willing to back every one of these numbers. So in the first, there was a report released earlier this year which said that in the first 300 days of this government, 600 cases of recorded violence, in which at least 43 deaths, one 49 incidents where Christians were targeted and the rest were where Muslims were targeted.
So this is not someone's invention. Every single time this happens, people are saying that this is just fringe elements. This is very much part and parcel of a government that has come to power, which is Hindu supremacist, and in addition socially regressive and economically neo-liberal. And that's the toxic combination we're faced with.
And it's not just the award, it's the reconversions that they've had, it's the accusations of love jihad when there are marriages between Hindus and Muslims. It's the murder of atheists, secularists and rationalists that we have seen in India. We have seen the killings of the beef ban, and there have been spokespeople from their government.
Nitasha Kaul: That, ...
Mehdi Hasan: You made a lot of points there, let me bring in Dr Gautam Sen, who is a former lecturer at the London School of Economics, president of the World Association of Hindu Academicians. Do you want to respond to Nitasha's charge sheet there?
Gautam Sen: Well, I think a lot of the facts she's quoting, and I'm afraid you as well, are, disputed. These are not correct and I have actually read the report on communal violence but I won't labour the point now because we will not agree.
Nitasha Kaul: I'm willing to back each of these points with research.
Gautam Sen: It is easy to focus on a laundry list of accusations and make it out as if the entire country represents them.
I am appalled like many people that there are reasonable people who say unreasonable things. I know for a fact the prime minister finds it appalling, because it is not convenient for a sitting prime minister to have this kind of grief.
Every politician in India knows, no matter what they say, that he cannot afford civil violence. It will destroy our country. We do not like what is happening in Syria, Libya, Iraq that the West has inflicted, we do not want this in our society. As for unreasonable people, yes, and I think the prime minister does apologise. I will only say the Supreme Court exonerated him completely after the most searching investigation. Even I thought up to two years that he was responsible.
Mehdi Hasan: How can the Supreme Court exonerate someone they know is right. I'm not sure that's true?I'm not sure the Supreme Court can exonerate someone who has never actually been on trial in front of them. But let's just bring up Mehboob Khan. As a UK-based journalist of Indian origin, who haslived and worked in India, what's your take on what you've heard so far this night?
Mehboob Khan: We have seen even after one week when Modi took over as the prime minster on May 28 last year, on June 4 one boy was killed in Punai. There is a mob, they took out him and just lynched him to death. There was no word from Prime Minister Modi.
One more thing: when they are out of the power, they ignite the communal violence. When they are in power, they have given it a new face, actually. Now they are openly saying that if you disagree with us, go to Pakistan.
Ram Madhav: Such statements, whoever makes those statements, I'm the general secretary of the party, the prime minister, our party have unequivocally condemned those statements, Nobody needs to leave India.
Mehdi Hasan: You're currently national general secretary of the BJP, but you're actually only there on loan I believe because you're still a pracharak. You're a full-time activist for the Rastria Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the RSS, the multimillion-member right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation. It is often described as the ideological backbone of the BJP. Naridar Modi is a lifelong member of it. You've said that the RSS and the BJP share the same ideology, the same vision.
Critics say that the ideology is Hindu supremacist. It's anti-minority, it's fascist even. How would you, a former RSS spokesman, describe the ideology of the RSS?
Ram Madhav: You're completely, completely wrong. The RSS ideology is for the unity of India. It is neither supremacist, nor aggressive, nor dominant. It is for the whole country, for all the people. RSS ideology stands for one India, united India.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, so when people talk about the RSS ideology, do you understand why some people are afraid. They look at the past, they look at the history. MS Golwalkar, for example, the former leader of the RSS, one of its most influential voices, someone both you and the prime minister have described as inspirational, he was inspired, he says, by Nazi Germany, which displayed he said a race pride at its highest and was a good lesson for use in Hindustan, in India. He said the three main threats to India internal threats, were No 1, Muslims, No 2 Christians and No 3 Communists. He referred to India's Muslim menace and to India's Christian's as "bloodsuckers". Do you understand why people are nervous when they hear the RSS, when they see people like Golwalkar are behind it?
Ram Madhav: Now that you are quoting Golwalkar, let me quote Golwalkar for you, for your benefit you should because many times you misquote him.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, did I misquote him just now?
Ram Madhav: Yes, yes, absolutely, absolutely, absolutely, for the simple reason, for the simple reason.
Mehdi Hasan: He never said, okay.
Ram Madhav: Bloodsuckers etcetera was not used by him. Those words were never used by Guruji Golwalkar. I challenge you. And I am telling you what he said.
Mehdi Hasan: Please, please read.
Ram Madhav: I am telling you what he said. According to our ways of religious belief and philosophy a Muslim, as good as, a Muslim is as good as a Hindu. It is not the Hindu alone who will reach the ultimate godhead, everyone has the right to follow his path according to his own persuasion. That is our attitude, this is Guruji Golwalkar.
Mehdi Hasan: Fantastic, so he didn't say, so just to clarify, he didn't say: "What have the Christians done in practice? Wherever they have gone they have proved not to be blood givers but bloodsuckers?"
Ram Madhav: No he didn't say that, he didn't say that you must.
Mehdi Hasan: He doesn't say in a Bunch of Thoughts, third edition, 1966, available on the RSS website to download and read.
Ram Madhav: No, no he didn't use the word bloodsuckers at all, you are misquoting, he didn't use the bloodsuckers at all.
Mehdi Hasan: What did he say, what did he say?
Mehdi Hasan: He didn't say, he didn't say, he didn't say the three main internal threats are Muslims, Christians, Communists.
Ram Madhav: Yes, they are challenges. We had the three challenges in our country.
Mehdi Hasan: Three challenges. Not enemies? I'm asking you a question.
Ram Madhav: Well you see, oh yeah these are ... challenges we ought to talk about challenges.
Mehdi Hasan: So you're translating enemy as challenge. Okay, he didn't say the three main internal threats?
Ram Madhav: No, no internal threats. Internal challenges, yes. When we say internal threat it is about conversions, when we talk about internal threat ....
Mehdi Hasan: In the wake of the Gujarat massacre, let's see, let's see if I've got a mistranslation here. The RSS passed a resolution in Bangalore in 2002, when you were part of the executive committee, "Let Muslims understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority". How is that not a threat?
Ram Madhav: What we said was, what happened in Gujarat is highly condemnable.
In any society, Muslims and Hindu's ,if they are friendly with each other, that is the biggest guarantee of any security of the society. How is it a threat, if I say me and Mehdi should be friends? Am I threatening you?
Mehdi Hasan: If David Cameron were to say: "Let British Hindus understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority," do you think people would think that was acceptable? They wouldn't.
Just while we're on the subject, you yourself said, "This is Hindustan. This is a Hindu country," earlier this year. What did you mean by that? Clarify that.
Ram Madhav: Hindustan is a word that is invoked for this country, much before RSS was born. When we say Hindustan, it's a land where a particular way of life, a particular culture or civilisation is practised.
Mehdi Hasan: Only one culture?
Ram Madhav: Which is broadly identified.
Mehdi Hasan: Only one culture?
Ram Madhav: Country will have one culture, which accommodates different streams.
Mehdi Hasan: And it's a Hindu culture.
Ram Madhav: Different streams, you call it Hindu, you call it anything.
Mehdi Hasan: No I'm asking what you call it; I'm asking what you call it.
Ram Madhav: No, no we call it Hindu, do you have any objection? If you want to call it other ways, call it, but India has one culture: We are one culture, one people, one nation.
Mehdi Hasan: But the Muslims and Christians, the Sikhs, the millions of people who are not Hindu might say I'm Indian but I'm not Hindu. So where does that, where do I fit in here?
Ram Madhav: Because, see, Hindu term is used differently.
Mehdi Hasan: You mean culturally. Are you saying what you have defined as Hindu is Hindu culture?
See here is my question, where does a definition of Indianness that is on Hindu culture, where does that leave Muslim contributions to Indian civilisation? For example, the Taj Mahal. What would you do with that? Would you flatten it? Would you paint it orange? How do you make it Hindu?
Ram Madhav: But, but very much part of it, very much part of it.
Mehdi Hasan: How do you make it Hindu? How do you make it Hindu?
Ram Madhav: You tell me the greatest contributions of India, do we want to make them Muslim now.
Mehdi Hasan: But is it Hindu culture? That's all I'm asking. Is Taj Mahal part of Hindu culture?
Ram Madhav: Yes, the very much.
Mehdi Hasan: Is it?
Ram Madhav: Yes, very much in terms of our civilisational, culturally of course they're all part of it but ...
Mehdi Hasan: So Taj Mahal is part of Hindu culture?
Ram Madhav: If a Muslim doesn't want to admit it, so be it. Let him call it a Muslim culture, it is different from Hindu culture.
Mehdi Hasan: I'm asking you Ram, it's a very simple question, is Taj Mahal part of Hindu culture?
Ram Madhav: Part of our culture.
Mehdi Hasan: Is it Hindu?
Ram Madhav: Part of our culture, which we call Hindu.
Mehdi Hasan: You defined.
Ram Madhav: Oh yeah, we call Hindu, it's a ...
Mehdi Hasan: So whatever you like, you call Hindu?
Ram Madhav: Yeah, yeah.
Mehdi Hasan: Let's go back to our panel. Mehboob, Ram says this is about culture, this is not about religion, this is about culture. What's wrong with defining India as a Hindu, culturally Hindu nation?
Mehboob Khan: I would ask Madhav that when you say that Muslims, if Muslims earn the goodwill of majority they can live at peace, why it is Muslims that have to earn the goodwill? Why Hindus should not earn the goodwill of the Muslims?
Ram Madhav: Your concerns are very genuine. It's not about Muslims winning the goodwill of Hindus alone, it is the other way also.
If you are in small number, if you feel threatened, have the goodwill of the majority in your area. You live, you have goodwill and good relations, that's what we mean. That, in Kashmir we tell our friends that, "Earn goodwill of the existing majority there which happens to be Muslim." We will have...
Mehdi Hasan: Why does a citizen of a country have to earn anything? Why don't they have rights as citizens as equal members of society?
Ram Madhav: No. Yeah that is your understanding. We say you cannot hand over everything to government. I'm a citizen, protecting me is your responsibility. That's not the way we look at it. We look at it as you all have goodwill so that you all protect each other.
Mehdi Hasan: Nitasha.
Nitasha Kaul: ... to different audiences, the RSS and the BJP they work hand in glove with each other. The, the RSS actually has camps where young boys and girls are trained in the use of weapons. There is evidence of this, well-documented, where they are taught and they've made statements such as, "We will build, we will build bombs, we will kill Muslims." And there is video footage recorded that they have of [Yogi] ...., you know, one of their MPs, BJP MPs, onstage with people who his supporters are asking the crowd to exhume the dead bodies of Muslim women and to rape them. And that was followed by an incident like that actually happening, so this is not somebody making things up. That person is still an MP. The BJP RSS, the Sangh Parivar ideology is not one of civic nationalism. It's not one of looking at people in terms of their rights. It is very much along a socially regressive community based notion of rights, and just one point.
Mehdi Hasan: Let Ram respond to your point now.
Ram Madhav: In RSS system no weapon-training is allowed.
Mehdi Hasan: Time is running out, just deal with the point about the guy who pulled out, said, "Pull out dead bodies and rape them," that's true?
Ram Madhav: No, no. If he has made such statement it is reprehensible, we strongly condemn it.
Gautam Sen: [INTERRUPTING] I have to say one thing, I used to want to shrink back at the very name of the RSS. I'm afraid now I know a lot of the leaders and the only accusation I'd make at the RSS that you are pussycats and you're amateurs. There is absolutely no trace of violence. I know all the top leader
Nitasha Khan: Well, people are bigots ...
Gautam Sen: ... There is no [such] violence. They're a little bit anxious about celebrating the historic past of Hinduism, a country occupied for twelve hundred years has every right to do that. It may be exaggerated-,
Nitasha Kaul: [INTERRUPTING] Occupied for twelve hundred years?
Mehdi Hasan: Respond briefly.
Gautam Sen: And and they know the RSS
Nitasha Kaul: [INTERRUPTING] Occupied
Gautam Sen: Excuse me, the RSS knows that anybody with any...
Nitasha Kaul: [INTERRUPTING] Occupied for twelve hundred years, Mughals were occupiers?
Gautam Sen: Anybody with any good sense, of course they're occupiers.
Ram Madhav: ... but what do you mean? Mughals were occupiers, who else?
Nitasha Kaul: So the entire history of India is only Hindu? There we have it.
Ram Madhav: Yes, Mughals were occupiers, Mughals, do you mean to say Mughals were Indians?
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Okay, okay.
Mehdi Hasan: We're going to have to take a break there. In part two we're going to be back with Ram Madhav talking about the intractable conflict in Kashmir and we're going to hear from our very patient audience here in the Oxford Union, that's after the break.
Mehdi Hasan: Welcome back, you're watching Head to Head on Al Jazeera, my guest is Ram Madhav, general secretary of the BJP.
We've been talking about the BJP, about the RSS, about Hindutva ideology. In this part I want to talk about a political conflict that's been going on for a very long time - the issue of Kashmir, the territory disputed both by India and Pakistan since partition.
It has led to several wars, tens of thousands of people have died. Experts are worried about a nuclear exchange starting because of the standoff in Kashmir, and yet in November Prime Minister Modi visited the area, he said: "I don't need advice or analysis from anyone in the world on Kashmir," despite the fact that he doesn't seem to have any solution to the conflict there apart from throwing more money at the problem. And yet the challenge of Kashmir, wouldn't you agree, is not developmental, is not socioeconomic. It's political, it's geopolitical?
Ram Madhav: The only outstanding issue with regard to the Kashmir problem is the Kashmir under Pakistan occupation. The Kashmir that is an integral part of India - it has been proved time and again that it's an integral part of India. So when the prime minister is visiting Kashmir, he is visiting any other Indian state. Any other Indian state.
Mehdi Hasan: He's visiting a state, it's not any other state, it's a state with tens of thousands of people who've been killed in an insurgency against the government, from people who live in that state who aren't very happy with the situation, I think we would agree.
Ram Madhav: I handle Jammu and Kashmir affairs. More people have died in this state because of the terrorism that was perpetrated by people from across the borders than the real focal political violence.
Mehdi Hasan: So everyone in Kashmir is happy, it's all a Pakistani conspiracy?
Ram Madhav: No, no, no, there are political demands in Kashmir. They will be taken care of
Mehdi Hasan: And what's the solution?
Ram Madhav: Short of separatism, short of separating from India. The Kashmiris can ask for anything under the Indian constitution. It will be considered favourably and granted by the Indian state, and they're part of India.
Mehdi Hasan: And yet there is this conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir. India has rejected the latest four-point plan from the Pakistani PM which he presented at the United Nations in September, which included demilitarizing the region. You yourself have rejected what you call docile diplomacy I believe. Your government, many would say, has no interest in bilaterally and peacefully resolving this issue once and for all with Pakistan. You're happy with the status quo.
Ram Madhav: As far as Kashmir is concerned, I said where we stand, we stand, only outstanding issue is PoK. As neighbours have good relations, we strive for that, it's not a concern for BJP ....
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] So what's your solution?
Ram Madhav: Successive governments have tried,
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] And what's your government's solution?
Ram Madhav: Yes we are trying for the same thing.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] I'm asking for the solution.
Ram Madhav: We are trying for the same thing.
Mehdi Hasan: What is the solution?
Ram Madhav: Our Amnesty level talks are happening, our foreign secretarial talks have happened.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] And what do you want to see happen? What's your proposal?
Ram Madhav: Our prime minister has talked to the prime minster of Pakistan at Paris summit.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] And what is your proposal? What is your solution I'm asking?
Ram Madhav: Well ,we talk it out and we talk it out.
Mehdi Hasan: Just keep talking?
Ram Madhav: Yes.
Mehdi Hasan: But what's the end result? [LAUGHTER]
Ram Madhav: [A solution]. There-, it's a very vexed problem my friend-,
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] And I'm asking for your solution, what is it?
Ram Madhav: Wait, wait, have patience. We two countries, have patience, we are talking.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Have patience? Only 60, 70 years later.
Ram Madhav: We want peace. Yeah why are you worried? We are settling it out. We are settling out ...
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] We're worried, the rest of the world doesn't want a nuclear war because your two countries can't sort it out.
Ram Madhav: No, no, no, don't worry, you worry about many more things that are happening, your ISIS can catch hold of nuclear weapons.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] My ISIS? [LAUGHTER AND BOOS FROM AUDIENCE]
Ram Madhav: [LAUGHS] Worry about that.
Mehdi Hasan: My ISIS?
Ram Madhav: Worry, worry about them, worry about...
Mehdi Hasan: Did you say my ISIS?
Ram Madhav: Your ISIS in the sense. ISIS can catch hold of nuclear weapons, worry about them.
The terrorists in the Middle East arranged in Pakistan can catch hold of nuclear weapons, worry about them. As far as India and Pakistan are concerned we behave as responsible nations with pride and ....
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Responsible nations that have fought several wars, that have nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community, and you can't even tell me tonight what your proposal for peace is apart from talking about ISIS. [APPLAUSE] So yeah, the world is worried.
Ram Madhav: We have to talk it out..
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, let's talk about ...
Ram Madhav: [INTERRUPTING] No, no, no, no, you can't make statement for claps.
Ram Madhav: We have to talk and find the best solution for the problem. What do you want? What do you want?
Mehdi Hasan: That's not an answer to my question, but thanks for that.
Ram Madhav: You want a written answer to your question? Come on.
Mehdi Hasan: It's not a verbal answer. One very controversial issue regarding India's handling of Kashmir over the past 25 years, you talked about militants killing people and militants, terrorists, extremists, whatever you want to call them, have killed a lot of innocent people, no doubt about that.
But what about the role of Indian security forces which have committed grave human rights violations against Kashmiris, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, all of which have gone pretty much unpunished?
Amnesty says that three and a half thousand civilians were killed by Indian security forces, 800 cases of torture they document. "To date," says Amnesty, "not a single member of the security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir over the past 25 years," they said in July, "has been tried for alleged human rights violations in a civilian court." That's pretty outrageous isn't it for a democracy?
Ram Madhav: Not correct. Several police officers, several security officers are facing cases. Some of them are in jails. Where human rights violations have happened, there the officials have been put to trial. They have been punished sometimes by the army itself, army has court marshal system ...
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] So not by civilian courts as Amnesty rightly points out?
Ram Madhav: [INTERRUPTING] No, no, let me complete. By civilian courts also. [Inside] under our government we have instituted a new commission .... commission to try and punish those guilty of human rights violations, those security persons who are guilty will be punished.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTION] That's good to hear, that's good to hear. Do you know how many complaints brought against the army in the state of Jammu and Kashmir have been dismissed as false and baseless?
Ram Madhav: Yeah, yeah, I mean there, there can be..
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Do you know how many? Do you know what proportion of, do you know what proportion?
Ram Madhav: You know, in a situation like that, in a situation...
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] It's a simple question Ram, do you know what proportion of complaints have been dismissed, roughly?
Ram Madhav: I mean you can tell me from Amnesty report, I don't mind.
Mehdi Hasan: Ninety six percent of complaints are rejected out of hand as baseless.
Ram Madhav: Yes, there can be a number, there can be a number of flimsy complaints.
Mehdi Hasan: And then you wonder why people are upset in that state.
Ram Madhav: A number of flimsy complaints ...
Mehdi Hasan: I'm sure there are, but 96 percent?
Ram Madhav: Ah possible, possible.
Mehdi Hasan: Do you accept that every human rights group in the world says that India is not taking care of human rights in the state of Kashmir?
Ram Madhav: No, no, that's wrong. We are, we take ....
Mehdi Hasan: It's wrong that they don't or it's wrong that every human rights group says it? Which one is wrong?
Ram Madhav: Look, India takes full care of its people's human rights.
Mehdi Hasan: And, and most human rights groups, if not every, disagrees with you when it comes to Kashmir.
Ram Madhav: They have a right to disagree.
Mehdi Hasan: Of course they have a right, of course they have a right, [APPLAUSE] this is the substance.
Ram Madhav: [LAUGHS] They have a human right to disagree.
Mehdi Hasan: We can joke about that but the right is the right. Let's go to the panel who are listening here er patiently. Dr Nitasha Kaul, what do you think are the prospect of peace under a BJP-led government? Ram rightly points out that several Indian governments, it's not just BJP, have failed to solve this conflict, failed to resolve it. What do you think this government's going to do?
Nitasha Kaul: Well you see on the issue of Kashmir, actually the Hindu nationalists are just a more extreme version of the Indian nationalists, and of course throughout the 90s it wasn't, you know, it wasn't the BJP in power. However what they share is a more extreme version of the same argument .... Kashmir ...., if you ask for milk we'll give you pudding, if you ask for Kashmir we'll tear you to bits.
It's one of the most militarized places in the world, the armed forces' special powers act which is an emergency powers act has now been in force for 25 years plus.
So there have been like, you know, these tens of thousands of killings, women who are half widows, mass graves, mass rapes, you know. It's a complete travesty of justice there. And the thing is that those people are being claimed in the name of a democracy. But really the concern is with territory not the people there, and there isn't any genuine effort most of the time by this government included in the past, you know, in that [ambit] of humanity we'll talk. But they don't. The Kashmiris are not involved.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Okay, let me bring in Gautam Sen. Isn't it fair to say that the BJP's non-docile diplomacy is doomed to fail like the quote/unquote docile diplomacy apparently that went before?
Gautam Sen: I'm afraid the problem is insoluble because the only issue Pakistan wants to negotiate is sovereignty and that's not going to be on the table. And I didn't know that Dr Kaul was the representative of the Pakistan embassy in Oxford today. [LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE]
Nitasha Kaul: I am not and this is defamation. Excuse me, I strongly, I strongly object. This is defamatory and this is exactly the kind of anti-national label that they give to anybody who dissents with them. [APPLAUSE & CHEERS] As a Kashmiri Hindu,
Mehdi Hasan: Gautam, make your point, do you want to respond? Do you want to withdraw the remark? Do you want to withdraw the remark?
Gautam Sen: I do not withdraw my complaint.
Mehdi Hasan: Is there going to be a peace deal under this government, yes or no?
Gautam Sen: I think peace is going to prove extremely elusive because the demands will not be met.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, thank you. Mehboob Khan, you spent four years as a correspondent in Indian-administered Kashmir, you even, I believe, received threats you say from the Indian government over your news reports on human rights abuses. What is your view?
Mehboob Khan: I would say to Ram, if successive government have failed in finding a solution, and you are saying that you are ready to talk on anything, so why don't you talk to Hurriyat, which is the main [leader] now. And if you take them, if you engage them, even since Prime Minister Modi has come to power he has refused or he has lost several opportunities.
So first I think you have to get rid of this, that Kashmiri the whole Kashmir is an integral part, that is a problem. You have to [leave it]. If you are sincere then you have to find some common ground otherwise you are going to fail.
Mehdi Hasan: Ram, come back in briefly. I want to bring in the audience, so come back in briefly.
Ram Madhav: Yes, my simple point is Hurriyat can talk to the Jammu and Kashmir state government. In our Common Minimum Programme we have stated that as internal stakeholders the Hurriyat can always talk to the state government.
Hurriyat we do not consider as a player in the international politics between India and Pakistan. They will be handled by respective governments. You are asking repeatedly what will happen, we will together work as two democracies as long as democracy survives in Pakistan. We work as two democracies, we will not talk to a military Pakistan.
Mehdi Hasan: Let's go to our audience here in the Oxford Union. Gentleman here at the front.
Audience participant 1: Thank you Mehdi. I am an Indian and I now live in UK. I have always been proud of being a product of the composite culture of India. To my British friends I often say that India is an example of unity and diversity. I remind my local friends of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent approach to problems, however things are changing now and I feel that organisations like RSS actually are spoiling the Hindu religion. I feel that these organisations are doing to Hinduism what Al-Qaeda and ISIS have done to Islam.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Okay, okay, okay let's put that point to him. Thank you, let's put that point to Ram.
Ram Madhav: I think he has a view.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERUPTING] Hold on, hold on, let's let Ram come back, we've got to move-,
Ram Madhav: Yes, he's entitled to his view. I can only say that your opinion is wrong. RSS and ISIS, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the very comparison defeats your whole argument that our syncretic culture should be protected. I am for your argument that we should protect our pluralism. I am for your argument that India has multiple religions to be protected. But you have defeated your argument by comparing RSS with ISIS.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, okay, sorry, we're going to have to go back to the audience now/
Ram Madhav: You-, you are .... I'm thinking you are insane.
Mehdi Hasan: You've made your point.
Ram Madhav: I know but, okay, you asked.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay you've made your point now let's go to the-,
Ram Madhav: [INTERRUPTING] "You made your point."
Mehdi Hasan: Gentleman in the second row, yes you with your hand up there.
Audience participant 2: In Haryana, BJP government is promoting Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture, by giving one million rupees to all its 21 states. Why the government doesn't do it for like other Hindu, other like religious, scriptures, and how they are allowed to use public fundings for promoting a specific religion? That's my question.
Ram Madhav: Bhagavad Gita is considered a very important, ancient treasure of India, we regard, we attach great respect to it. It doesn't mean we disrespect any other religious scripture, government is free to support all religions. We support all religions, our government supports all the religions
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] But in a secular nation you treat all religions equally don't you?
Ram Madhav: Yeah of course, and that is precisely what we stand for..
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] So will you be funding the spreading of the Quran and Bible?
Ram Madhav: No, no, but my point is you ask for special treatment to minorities, we are saying let us have equal respect for all.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Okay, agreed so ...
Ram Madhav: We give equal respect to all.
Mehdi Hasan: So on equal grounds will you be funding the spreading of-,
Ram Madhav: [INTERRUPTING] No let ....
Mehdi Hasan: Will you be funding the spreading of the Quran and the Bible under government funding?
Ram Madhav: Let .... Muslim leadership approach the government, they will certainly do that [in full].
Mehdi Hasan: Are you in favour of that?
Ram Madhav: Let the government do [it in full].
Mehdi Hasan: I'm asking you.
Ram Madhav: Whatever is good, whatever is right the government will do, whatever is right the government
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Are you in favour-, [LAUGHTER] are you in favour of the government-,
Ram Madhav: Whatever is right the government will do.
Mehdi Hasan: And I'm asking you, are you in favour of the government funding?
Ram Madhav: I'm of the state.
Mehdi Hasan: But you have an opinion, we've seen tonight, you have a fair few opinions.
Ram Madhav: My opinion cannot be in your words, it will be in my words. My opinion is whatever is right the government will do. [LAUGHTER]
Mehdi Hasan: That's not an opinion, that's a..
Ram Madhav: That is the opinion.
Mehdi Hasan: That's a classic politician ... Can we go to someone..
Ram Madhav: [LAUGHS] I am a politician.
Mehdi Hasan: Do you agree with funding the Bhagavad Gitas?
Ram Madhav: Absolutely, nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, so that's your opinion on it, okay, good, good to know. Yes, lady there at the back, yes, you.
Audience participant 3: Since RSS is always seen as a Hindu organisation could you please tell the audience the Islamic, the Muslim and the Christian organisations that are working with the RSS to help everyone in the country so that the audience knows here [APPLAUSE].
Ram Madhav: Oh actually we have a, I don't claim they are in tons and tons but we have some, definitely some members from different communities who understand us and who work for us
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Okay,I'm going to go to the gentleman at the front.
Audience participant 4: I am a proud Indian and I'm a Christian. My question is that Christian initiations have served a long time education-wise, development-wise, but today in many parts of India, Christians and Christian institutions are attacked and they are sometimes destroyed unfortunately. According to the constitution of the government the government is supposed to protect all people, including minority Christians. Why is the government not taking action against those who are clearly promoting hate campaign and doing hate crimes against minorities?
Mehdi Hasan: Who do you believe is promoting the hate campaign against Christians? Just to be clear? Who do you believe is promoting a hate campaign against Christians?
Audience participant 4 I think the government is not taking any action against the Hindu ... groups quickly.
Ram Madhav: Let me first of all tell you that the government takes every necessary step to protect all religions, including Christians and Christian institutions. There were some attacks on some institutions just before the Delhi election, six attacks happened, after Delhi election no attacks.
Look at the history. There is no attack. No certainly. So all those six attacks had nothing to do with religion. They were burglaries. Do you know in Delhi 40 ... were attacked by burglars?
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] So just to check, all the Christian groups who feel they're under attack, they're all imagining it? They're just being robbed?
Ram Madhav: No, no, no, most of them, most of them they are victims of certain campaign. Everybody will be safe, we will ensure that everybody is protected and everybody's religion is protected.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Gentleman here in the third row, yes.
Audience participant 5: Sir, it's like Congress government looted the country for 60 years and they promoted the media. Now Congress and media are blaming BJP and RSS. Why are you not taking any action on the Congress looters? There are so many people who looted the country.
Ram Madhav: No looter will be spared.
Mehdi Hasan: Let's go back to the audience. This lady here and then we'll go to the back.
Audience participant 6 You said earlier that the BJP has nothing to do with the legality of beef in India, so does the BJP support it? It seems discriminatory in a secular country.
Ram Madhav: As I said earlier there is a legal ban on cow slaughter and production of beef. Beef, when I say, mostly it is cow meat. Bull and ...., there is a legal ban for 60 years, nothing to do with our government, that's all.
Mehdi Hasan: By the way, do you know which country in the world is the biggest exporter of beef?
Ram Madhav: Probably India.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, just checking.
Mehdi Hasan: Let's go to the back, who's been waiting? Let's see, who's been waiting longest at the back? Oh the guy waving, come on, yes.
Audience participant 7: Can I ask what makes the BJP, the VHP, Bajrang Dal custodians of Hinduism? Who gave them that right?
Ram Madhav: Each group, each organisation has their view. It depends on how many people subscribe to that view. RSS, VHP, BJP, have a larger number of Indians supporting their view.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay. Gentleman here in the second row.
Audience participant 8: Why does criticism of the BJP government or the PM equate to treating that person as unpatriotic or anti-Indian? Why is that culture being created?
Ram Madhav: Oh not at all. You are grossly mistaken. You watch Indian channels? You watch Indian channels all the time. ....
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] No he was, no, no, no, no, Ram, come on. Ram, he watched you, he watched you in the very first answer saying, "Anyone who .... is defaming the country." That is pretty unpatriotic.
Ram Madhav: Because .. yes, yes ... unpatriotic .... by those ... people, ... people in India, those who criticise BJP are in millions, are in millions. They're all patriotic Indians, we do not question their patriotism. You have every right to question BJP, not India. You cannot question India. That's the only point.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, okay, lady in the glasses there, four rows in the back.
Audience participant 9: I'm a proud Indian, I also happen to be a minority. I believe that all religions are capable of fundamentalism and since you have very vociferously believed today and stated very clearly that there has been no evidence of any fundamentalism in India, hypothetically could you show us what an example of Hindu fundamentalism would look like so that people like us can actually watch out for it and ensure there are is no sort of Hindi fundamentalism that ever comes out.
Ram Madhav: Rather than trying to show you what Hindu fundamentalism is like I would rather try and ensure that there is no such Hindu fundamentalism in India and there is no such other fundamentalisms in India. That is my answer to you.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] So you're not going, I mean, you're not going to, but surely you would concede, like anyone would concede, that there are groups who are pushing hatred, who are engaging in violence in the name of whatever you want to call it; Hindu political ideology, Indian Nationalism.
Ram Madhav: But listen, I said it many times, punish them. ...
Mehdi Hasan: No but you accept it's happening? You accept, because it sometimes seems like you're saying it's all a myth, it's all a media creation, they're all burglars.
Ram Madhav: See there is a subtle difference. If somebody for example somebody is justifying his violence by his quoting scriptures, call him a Hindu fundamentalist,
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Ram Madhav: But if he does it ... nobody has right to violence, nobody has right to fundamental-,
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Okay but you didn't answer her question to be honest. Let's take this lady's question here, yeah, she's been waiting a while.
Audience participant 10: Among the other, you know, factual incorrectness that we've seen here today er there is no state of Kashmir, there is a state of Jammu and Kashmir. I am from that state, and another thing is that I'm a minority. I'm a Hindu and I'm a minority in the state, so I've seen enough evidence of the other kind of fundamentalism. My question to you, Ram Madhav is this, that in the Jammu province which is one of the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir we are seeing a lot of shelling from across the border and my people from the Kathua, the Samba sector, which are not in Kashmir by the way, are in Jammu, what are you going to do? You have to take a tougher stand, what are you going to do to protect them?
Mehdi Hasan: Okay. Briefly.
Ram Madhav: No, no, we are taking, we are guarding our borders with much more toughness than the previous governments, but then people pounce on us: "You are, you know .... peace with Pakistan so you should tolerate all the."
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] I said, "Please answer the question," I didn't do any pouncing.
Ram Madhav: So we are saying we will protect the border.
Mehdi Hasan: Come on. Gentleman here in the second row.
Audience participant 11: You talk about Indian Hindu culturism, right? I'm an Indian Muslim and you'll probably agree that Islam came to India in the 6th century, not with Mughals, and [Kashauri] came in first or second century. So my ancestors where I come from have been Indian Muslims for 1,400 years, so where do I fit in? Why do we have to embrace,
Ram Madhav: [INTERRUPTION] We're proud of you.
Audience participant 11: Thank you, but why do we have to..
Ram Madhav: Proud of millions of Indians, millions of Indians.
Audience participant 11: Why do we have to embrace Indian Hinduism, I love Hinduism, but why do we have to be Hindutva. Why do you have to accept Indian Hindutva culture?
Ram Madhav: You don't have to. You don't have to. It's your choice.
Audience participant 11: No? So why do you propagate?
Ram Madhav: That is the beauty of India.
Audience participant 11: But you are the leader, you represent people. If it's a fringe element that's fine, but you are a leader, why do you propagate it?
Ram Madhav: We propagate it in a very positive sense. You don't agree [LAUGHTER] today, you don't agree. You don't agree but many agree.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay. Okay let's take this gentleman
Audience participant 12: Basically I'm from Afghanistan and I understand that we hold a very strong historical relationship with India. However, the stronger our relationship has gotten with India, the more we suffer from our neighbour countries which has the disputes with you. In the media you say that you'll make up with them, you'll sit down with them, but in reality you step back, both sides. In the middle we are the ones who suffer, what is your wills um to overcome the situation?
Ram Madhav: No Afghanistan and India have very ancient and strong relations, those relations are good for our both countries.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay gentleman here, let's go.
Audience participant 13: I just want to say I'm not from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, I am from Azad Kashmir and I'm free. [AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE]
Mehdi Hasan: Okay. Do you want to respond to that?
Ram Madhav: Well, he's entitled to his view.
Audience participant 13: My question.
Mehdi Hasan: No, no, no, no, wait, go on, briefly.
Audience participant 13: Mr Ram Madhav, your biggest challenge is Kashmir. The PDP-BJP coalition is a total failure, human rights violation on the rise,
Mehdi Hasan: Okay, I'm going to cut you off now
Audience participant 13: My question to you is, when do you think will Indian-occupied Kashmir be free?
Ram Madhav: No first of all we will free POK-occupied Kashmir. We first free the POK-occupied Kashmir, then we think of other things.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Mehdi Hasan: Let me ask you this before we finish. Many years ago I had the opportunity to visit the RSS headquarters in Nagpur in India and when I went there I saw this massive map on the wall which showed India but no Pakistan and no Bangladesh, and I believe that's what's called Akhand Bharat, a undivided India in some circles, Indian national circles. Is that what you want to see one day, India restored, undivided, Bangladesh and Pakistan gone from the map?
Ram Madhav: The RSS still believes that one day these parts which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago will again, through popular goodwill, come together [LAUGHTER] and Akhand Bharat will be created.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Wow. Do you believe that?
Ram Madhav: The RSS believes in that, as an RSS ...
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] You're the RSS ... you were the RSS spokesman.
Ram Madhav: As an RSS member I also hold on to that view, but that does not mean we wage war on any country, we annex any country, it doesn't mean one-, if-, if two-,
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTION] You're going to persuade them through argument.
Ram Madhav: If two Germanies can come together, if two Vietnams can come together what makes you to think ...
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] But you want that? [APPLAUSE]
Ram Madhav: That, too, Pakistan and India cannot come together?
Mehdi Hasan: Okay. So just to clarify, what I asked you about what was your proposal for Kashmir, we now heard it, it's basically India takes over everything.
Ram Madhav: No, no, Kashmir is a [LAUGHTER] different issue.
Ram Madhav: [INTERRUPTING] Pakistan has sinned… Pakistan and Balochistan .... which part-,
Mehdi Hasan: Agreed, .... India ....
Ram Madhav: Which do not want to remain in Pakistan .... so much human rights violations in Balochistan, so much human rights violations ....
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] Should they all join India?
Ram Madhav: They're also fighting for their own rights.
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] But you want them in India. But you want them in India.
Ram Madhav: We are not doing anything, we are saying-, we are saying-,
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] You just told me 30 seconds ago, "I want to see it all part of India," you just said that.
Ram Madhav: The RSS believes in that, but without violence-,
Mehdi Hasan: [INTERRUPTING] No the RSS, you're the spokesman of the RSS.
Ram Madhav: Without war, through popular consent, it can happen. It happened in the world.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Ram Madhav: It happened in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehdi Hasan: Okay.
Nitasha Kaul: Kashmir is not owned by anyone.
Mehdi Hasan: Thank you very much for your time. You've been a very strong guest, I think it's fair to say. Thank you very much for your time and coming here and taking part in the show.
Ram Madhav: Thank you.
Mehdi Hasan: Thanks also to our excellent panel of experts and to our audience members here in the Oxford Union. Thanks for watching at home. That's the end of this current series of Head to Head but keep watching Al Jazeera. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much.
Ram Madhav: Thank you sir.
Source: Al Jazeera