Ever heard of K.V.S. Manian?
Neither had I until recently.
K.V.S. Manian was and remains an archetype and a symbol and a combined embodiment of numberless Indians who awakened to a questionable freedom at midnight. K.V.S. Manian was also a real person, a poorly-paid stenographer silently toiling away at the office of the Director General, Civil Aviation.
Until the Nehruvian hell visited him on 12 December 1948.
This is his story.
From the Sanatana civilizational and cultural perspective, the history of independent India is an ongoing commentary on Nehru-inflicted darkness. Mohandas Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of Nathuram Godse on 30 January 1948 forms perhaps the most pivotal prefaces to this commentary. The well-known story of how Nehru’s Government summarily banned the RSS in the immediate aftermath doesn’t need repeating here. What needs repeating is this: the ban was imposed without due process and at this distance in time, there is every reason to believe that Gandhi’s assassination was the perfect pretext that the Congress and other RSS-baiters were unsuccessfully lusting after for so many decades.
Which raises another historical question: the ban was imposed by a Government led by a political party which had freshly proven that it was too feeble to prevent the vivisection of the sacred geography of an ancient, unbroken civilization in face of a determined Muslim “minority” which extracted a new communal nation for itself. Acharya R.C. Majumdar gives perhaps the best analysis of this weak-kneed leadership:
Yet, after India attained “independence,” the new political leadership banned the RSS, an organization, which till the very end, doggedly fought to prevent the partition and to unite Hindus in every sphere and to preserve the civilizational integrity and cultural continuity of Bharatavarsha.
If banning the RSS was seen as the solution, what explains the carefully-buried horror story of the genocide of Chitpavan Brahmanas in Maharashtra by the Gandhian goons of independent India? That is a story for another day.
The Congress and its fellow-travellers made the most of the ban for about eighteen months. It is what I call the Great Nehruvian Purge, an extremely sinister project that simultaneously set a narrative of demonization for the next six or seven decades. This narrative was a self-evident truth that needed no logical argument, no free-spirited public debate or scholarly justification. It was decadal exercise in naked political labelling, and a major label that emerged from this narrative was something that was popular just twenty years ago: RSS Agent. That was the dreaded label that frightened even the most learned scholar and shut down countless public debates. RSS Agent was the magic combination code that ensured that the eerie vault of the Congress Party would lock the moment you uttered it.
The immediate outcome of the Great Nehruvian Purge included a Stalinist sweep of the entire nation to hunt down anyone remotely suspected to have links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. They would suffer exemplary punishment which included but was not limited to prison time and loss of livelihood. The purge was diabolical in intent, cold-blooded in its execution and devastating in the outcome it achieved. Arguably, it met perhaps its greatest success in the administration and bureaucracy: in one overnight stroke, it terrorized all Government employees who, irrespective of whether they had RSS sympathies or no, were also nationalists and patriots and genuinely loved the country. Here is an official sample of how the anti-RSS hounding operated at the highest levels of the Government. This is an extract from a letter of the Establishments Section to the Home Minister dated 8 April 1949:
I suppose further elaboration is unnecessary.
But one of the more effective methods used in this anti-RSS witch-hunt was the draconian Public Safety Act enacted in almost all states. For more details on this tyrannical legislation, see this piece on The Dharma Dispatch.
Enter K.V.S. Manian.
Sometime in early December 1948, the RSS had taken out a peaceful Satyagraha in Delhi in the vicinity of Manian’s home. Let’s read in Manian’s own words happened next:
On the afternoon of the 5th or 6th of December, 1948 I was inside my home practicing shorthand when I heard a lot of noise outside. My young child who [was] playing outside came with tears in her eyes and crying. I naturally got out to see what was happening. When I came out I found tear gas had been used. Seeing the state of my child and out of sympathy for her, I spoke to the Police Officer near my house protesting against the use of tear gas…without regard to the presence of children. The Officer, thinking that I was interfering with his work ordered me to accompany him to the police station (Fais Bazar) where I was detained for a night…The next day when produced before the court I explained to the Magistrate the circumstances which led to my being brought to the police station. On tendering my apology to the Magistrate…I was let off. My apology was only with regard to my having attempted to interfere with the Police Officer…At no time did I admit to having participated in the [RSS] movement since I had never anything to do with the same. [Emphasis added]
K.V.S Manian, the stenographer working at the D.G. Civil Aviation was arrested under Section 19 of the Punjab Public Safety Act. However, his apology was accepted by the court, which admonished him under Section 562 of the CrPC and set him free on 13 December 1948 after issuing a strict warning.
But the real nightmare began after this.
On 28 December 1948, the Delhi Chief Commissioner of Police forwarded a list of Government employees “who had been arrested and convicted for their association with or participation in RSS activities” to the Home Ministry. The unfortunate Manian’s name was in the list. In a curious feat of interpretation, the Home Ministry decided that the judge’s discharge of Manian actually meant that Manian was convicted. But this “conviction” was not enough punishment. A stronger dose was needed: termination of his employment.
This triggered a chain of prolonged bureaucratic exchanges among various branches and departments and ministries: Joint Secretary of the Home Ministry, the Deputy of Intelligence Bureau, Police Commissioner, and the Ministry of Communication. Documents were sought, memos and notations and opinions circulated in a puzzling maze of circular communication.
At one point, the Home Ministry gives the benefit of doubt to Manian stating that he could be reinstated. However, that ray of hope is bleak because several bureaucrats really want his head. And so, on 3 March 1949, K.V.S. Manian receives a memo from the Director General, Civil Aviation stating that he is “is dismissed from service with immediate effect for his participation in the activities of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”
In response, the distraught Manian writes a truly heart-rending appeal to reconsider. It doesn’t make for easy reading but this is how it concludes:
The D.G. is unmoved.
However, Manian directly appeals to the Home Minister himself, which in turn ignites another chain of bureaucratic nightmare. The same process repeats with the same consequences: an obstinate bureaucratic determination to sacrifice Manian’s livelihood for his unproven crime of having links to the RSS. This time, the determination has a far crueler edge. Here is a sample of the kind of language used by senior and powerful bureaucrats in deciding Manian’s fate afresh.
The Home Ministry writes back to the Ministry of Communications saying, “no leniency should be shown in [such] cases” and that “since the lightness of the punishment awarded by the court could not be admissible as a plea for reinstatement of the released employee, we give our opinion that dismissal would be the appropriate punishment in the case of Mr. Manian.”
The intent is to somehow “prove” that Manian indeed has links with the RSS. There are repeated requests to find something, anything in the police records to the effect. Here is a sample from a letter dated 4 May 1949 by Deputy Commissioner R. Dayal.
It is also worth recalling the timeline: from 28 December 1948 when Manian first falls prey to the Great Nehruvian Purge to his dismissal on 3 March 1949 and then to this bureaucratic “verdict” on 4 May 1949.
However, the tragic climax is reached on 26 May 1949 in a letter by a senior Home Ministry official:
We don’t know what happened to Manian after this. His story is preserved in the National Archives.
A mere stenographer, but one among such innumerable victims of Nehruvian nation-building. The underlying theme of Manian’s tragic story is not merely about his dismissal. Neither is it about the RSS. It is about the character of India’s top political leadership that sought to “create” a new nation by slaughtering its unbroken cultural continuum.
The studious researcher will find thousands of unmourned Manians, their voices from the grave awaiting a patient, sympathetic ear.
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