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The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has dismissed reports that quoted its chief spokesperson (Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh) Manmohan Vaidya as saying that the party would consider holding separate shakhas (branches) for its women cadre.

The report was dismissed by the RSS in successive tweets, soon after they began circulating in media. “Deliberately concocted baseless reports appeared in some media that RSS will consider entry of women in shakhas (reportedly) said Dr. Vaidya,” said a tweet posted from the official handle of RSS, followed by another tweet.

Hindutva may deem women empowerment to be anathema but yet it will not refrain from exploiting vulnerable females as expendable foot soldiers to overturn Indian society by hate and destruction

“What Dr. Vaidya said was that the RSS works with men only in shakhas and through them, we connect with their families.” The organization clarified that Shakha work among women is conducted by the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, and added that women participate “in all programmes and campaigns in the society”. The organization also remarked that women create an atmosphere of cooperation in families to support the RSS.

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The rumors were no doubt sparked by the recent remarks of Indian National Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi. Accusing RSS of discriminating against women, the Congress vice-president said: “Have you ever seen a woman in shorts attending a shakha? I haven’t.” He added one could see women at every level in the Congress party.

The Hindutva ideology pushes for a docile wife subservient to a patriarchal system. Career-oriented women are discouraged and deemed to be the opposite of good mothers and wives

His remarks have unleashed a heated debate. The debate revolves around the position of women in the Sangh Parivar and by extension the Hindutva ideology itself. The Sangh Parivar, the network controlled by the RSS, has women-specific groups throughout India. The most famous is the Durga Vahini who was the subject of a Canadian documentary “The World Before Her” which highlighted the indoctrinating of vulnerable Hindu women into violent extremism.

Many observers have cited these women groups as being a particular concern. Many women recruits, hailing from lower-income backgrounds, have been seen involved in violence all over India. The Durga Vahini was alleged to be involved in the 2002 Gujarat Muslim pogrom in which “They were found providing a healing touch to the male activists, information back-up and if the ethnic cleansing theory is true, I have a feeling they played a significant role in intelligence network as well.

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Many observers have cited these women groups as being a particular concern. Many women recruits, hailing from lower-income backgrounds, have been seen involved in violence all over India

While it will be very difficult to prove their direct involvement, women Sanghis had definitely scrutinized voters’ list or the traders’ license papers to screen the minorities with an innocuous intention” by senior police officials. Many female members are known as “sadhvis” and “Sinyasis” have become infamous throughout the nation. Perhaps the most notorious is Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, a member of the terrorist group known as Abhinav Bharat which was responsible for a string of bombings across India.

Most of the higher level RSS members are used for inciting hatred and uplifting moral, the most famous case is the BJP minister Uma Bharti who rallied for the destruction of the Babri mosque. Both these personalities are venerated by undertraining female members of the Sangh Parivar.

The debate revolves around the position of women in the Sangh Parivar and by extension the Hindutva ideology itself. The Sangh Parivar, the network controlled by the RSS, has women-specific groups throughout India

While the womenfolk are aggressively sought out by Hindutva but it is not for the sake of women empowerment. For the Sangh Parivar, women cadres are expendable and easily cowed subordinates. The Hindutva ideology pushes for a docile wife subservient to a patriarchal system. Career-oriented women are discouraged and deemed to be the opposite of good mothers and wives. This is apparent by the statement of the RSS chief that the duty of the woman is to look after her husband, failing which he can disown her and refuse to take care of her.

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In the end, the impact of saffronization on Indian Hindu women and the radicalization targeting them cannot be ignored. Hindutva may deem women empowerment to be anathema but yet it will not refrain from exploiting vulnerable females as expendable foot soldiers to overturn Indian society by hate and destruction.

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