'It was organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch. The RSS had nothing to do with organising the event,' senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com
"The Muslim Rashtriya Manch has been organising iftars for decades. How come nobody associated those iftars with the RSS before? Why is the media linking the RSS to this iftar?" asks an angry Indresh Kumar, the senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader, scotching reports that the RSS hosted its first-ever iftar on July 4.
"It was organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch. The RSS had nothing to do with organising the event," Indresh Kumar tells Rediff.com
"Please come to me with facts," he says, when asked if the RSS had for the first time in its history hosted an iftar.
The iftar was held at the Parliament Annexe building, to which 71 diplomats from Islamic countries were invited.
Indresh Kumar says he was asked by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, whose patron-in-chief he is, to deliver the welcome speech.
He refused to respond when asked if the Manch was not part of the RSS or affiliated to it.
"The main purpose of the iftar was to spread the message of peace in the world," adds Indresh Kumar.
Dr Imran Chaudhry, national co-convener, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, also rejected reports that the RSS organised the event.
"This is what the media has been tom-tomming. This iftar party was not organised by the RSS. The Muslim Rashtriya Manch was the organiser," he says.
When asked if the MRM is not affiliated to the RSS, Dr Chaudhry says, "The MRM is close to the RSS and acts on plans charted out by the RSS, but it is wrong to say that this iftar was organised by the RSS."
"The only connection was Indresh Kumar, who is a senior national RSS functionary. Being the patron-in-chief of the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, we invited him to deliver the welcome speech at the iftar," says Dr Chaudhry.
Nine ambassadors and 12 deputy chiefs of missions were among the diplomats who attended the iftar.
"While representatives from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, Morocco, Iran, Egypt and other Islamic countries attended, those from Pakistan and Bangladesh couldn't make it on July 4 due to their commitments," adds Dr Chaudhry.
"The sole purpose of this iftar was to tell the world that Islam preaches peace and whatever is happening in Syria and other countries in the Middle East is not what Islam preaches," he says. "We wanted to send a message of peace from Hindustan to other countries of the world."
What dishes were served during the iftar? "Everything that is considered halal in Islam was on the menu," says Dr Choudhry. "There was a lot of vegetarian dishes as well as chicken and mutton. There was no beef or buffalo meat."
Image: Dr Imran Chaudhry, second from left, national co-convener, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, with senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar, second from right, during the iftar organised on July 4. Photograph: Dr Imran Chaudhry/Facebook