New Delhi: Senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Krishna Gopal has claimed that the practice of untouchability started in India after the advent of Islam and the term “Dalit was not known in the country as the concept was a British conspiracy to divide and rule”.

Speaking at a book launch event on the subject of Dalits on Monday, he reiterated the RSS stand on having a casteless society. “The first example of untouchability is seen after Islam came. It is seen when at Raja Dahir’s (last Hindu king of Sindh) household his queens were on the way to commit Johar (the act of self Immolation). They mentioned word ‘Malechcha’ and said they need to hurry for the Johar else these ‘Malechcha’ would touch them and they will become impure.

This is the first example of untouchability in Indian text, ” said Gopal. Citing an example of how respected caste fell into categories of backward, Gopal said, “Today Maurya caste is backward, it used to be a higher caste, Pal were kings in Bengal today they became backwards, today Shakya the caste of Buddha has become OBC. The Dalit word did not exist in our society. This was a conspiracy by the British who wanted to divide and rule the country. The usage of word Dalit was even rejected by the Constituent Assembly.”

Further, he termed that the Islamic era as “dark-age” which India survived due to its deep spiritual roots. “No country in history has been able to survive Islam, except Bharat. It was due to its spirituality and sensibility we survived this dark age,” he said.

To corroborate his viewpoint, Krishna Gopal gave examples from Vedas and ancient text on social structure. “In India, we had lower and higher caste but not untouchability. Those who used to eat cow flesh were declared untouchables. Even Ambedkar also wrote about it. And slowly a big part of society became untouchable, ” he said.

While the Opposition has been trying to create an “anti-Dalit” image of the RSS, the Sangh has been desperately attempting to portray its works for the cause of the underprivileged castes in society.

The Sangh has often complained that it is being misrepresented and misquoted on issues related to the backward castes. Recently, the RSS had issued a clarification after it’s chief Mohan Bhagwat was allegedly misquoted by a section of the media in the reservation issue.

The RSS functionary took exception to the fact that “Shudras” were Dalits. According to Gopal, “Shudras” became kings and were respected in the society. “In fact, we have one of the greatest rulers of India Chandragupta Maurya who rose from being a shudra. Similarly, the sage Balmiki was a shudra who was called a Maharshi(great sage),” he added.

Speaking on the evils of the caste system, Gopal acknowledged that there is anger in the Scheduled Caste due to oppression. He underlined the fact that the need of the hour is to discuss those who contributed to correct the wrong done to those who were treated badly over a period of time.

“Anger is there and it is very justified. But there are also those who spoke against it and tried to pacify this anger. Phule, Narayan Guru, Dr Hedgewar, Swami Dayanand, Madan Mohan Malviya, Mahatma Gandhi. We should now discuss them,” Gopal said. He also felt that only Hindu way of life and Vedant can provide the answer to growing atheist populations across the world. “We know that 37 per cent in the US, 18 per cent in the UAE have identified themselves as being atheists. I feel that Hinduism can provide the answers that they seek, ” the RSS leader stated.