Eknathji As I Knew Him
Original Writer: Shri Ajitkumar Vishwas
Ref:Swastika: Bengali Weekly
The year was 1950 and the venue was Shaheed Minar Ground in Kolkata. The occasion was a gathering of the Sangha volunteers. Thousands of volunteers were present there in their full Sangha uniform on that occasion. I noticed three great personalities who were present on that day. Dr. Shyamaprasad Mukhopadhyay (Mukherji) presided over the event. Param Pujya Shri Golwalkar Guruji - the second Sar Sangha chalak (chief organizer of the Sangha)- the main speaker. Shri Eknath Ranade, in his full Sangha uniform, was standing behind these two great personalities. That was the first time I saw these three. Shri Eknathji was the Kshetra Pracharak of the Sangha, working at that time for Purvanchal, i.e. Bengal, Orissa and Assam together.
By 1947 the branches of the Sangha had started working all over India. But they had started in Bengal in 1939, and that was the time when the World War II started. The agitation of August 1942 had started. The 'Great Calcutta Killing' had taken place, and East Bengal was shaken by the terrible massacre that took place in Naukhali. The year 1949 was a time of great injustice for the Sangha. Nehru had held the Sangha responsible for the assassination of Gandhiji. Nehru had started maligning the Sangha by branding it as the assassinator of Gandhiji. This campaign of baseless allegations was carried on systematically against the Sangha.
In 1947 Bengal was divided into West and East Bengal. The Sangha did not have many branches in East Bengal, and there were not enough Volunteers either. The few, who were there, were exposed to terrible hardships. They were completely destroyed. The controversies over the assassination of Gandhiji and the malignant campaign against the Sangha had not yet fully subsided when the Swatantra Bharat Jan Andolan started. Nehru declared the Sangha to be an illegal organization and put a ban on it. The volunteers of the Sangha were constantly under violent attacks. Nearly 80000 volunteers started a campaign of 'satyagraha' to unite the Hindus in India. Many of the volunteers were sent to jail on account of this movement. Nehru saw the danger of aggravating the tension and withdrew the ban.
The Vastuhara Relief Committee was formed with a view to helping the homeless who were displaced from East Bengal. The relief-efforts were undertaken with tremendous strength. Shri Eknathji was playing a leading role in this. He was the chief of the committee. The Committee was all out in the efforts to help the people from East Bengal who were landing here in the most devastated condition. The Committee was there to help all those who came from the affected areas in East Bengal and this help was at the non-government organizational level, and this is still going on. Hindus were being displaced from East Pakisthan in large numbers and coming to India for shelter. Saving their religion and their life was most important. This relief committee was formed in 1950. The R.S.S. volunteers had collected large quantities of food-grains and clothing from all over India. This committee was active for many days. The first chairman of that committee was barrister Randev Choudhary, the grandson of the national mentor (Rashtraguru) Surendranath Bandyopadhay (Banerji).
Shri Guruji was in jail after the ban on the Sangha. Eknath Ranade was not in jail. He was busy trying all ways and means to get the ban removed. The order to lift the ban was passed on 12th July 1949. Nehru was opposed to this too. Along with Nehru, it was the Communist Party which was persistent in its opposition to the lifting of the ban. The Muslims were also in league with these two. The wanted to see the nation divided. That was the main motivation of this group.