No matter how much our leaders twist their words, but there is no denying of the fact that politics and violence go hand-in-hand.
And, the height of intolerance was reached in recent days when a video of an arms training camp of right-wing Hindu outfit Bajrang Dal went viral.
Pertinently, the Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Formed on Oct 1,1984 in Uttar Pradesh, its ideology is based on Hindutva.
The Bajrang Dal is a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) family and is mainly active in the northern and central parts of India.
The organisation held its annual self-defence training programme – Shourya Prasikhshan shivir (chivalry training camp) – to “counter terrorism and save Hindus from non-brothers” at Karsevakpuram, Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on May 14.
The outfit had announced that it will hold similar camps until June 5 in other parts of UP, including Sultanpur, Gorakhpur, Pilibhit, Noida and Fatehpur.
The video controversy:
Footage of sessions of the alleged “self-defence drills” went viral on Monday (May 23).
The video showed Bajrang Dal training sessions where its cadres are taking on volunteers in skull caps pretending to be terrorists, with firearms, swords and lathis and defeating them.
The cadres were seen jumping over fire rings, crossing muddy puddles, running through fire and shooting the volunteers masked as bearded militants.
The cop factor:
Sub-inspector Shri Niwas Pandey, the in-charge of Naya Ghat police outpost in Ayodhya police station area, lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against the camp organizers and participants under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Section 153A for allegedly promoting enmity between different communities based on religion, race, place of birth, residence and language.
According to reports, as many as 50 people were named in the FIR.
On Wednesday (May 25) arrested Bajrang Dal convenor of Ayodhya and Faizabad units, Mahesh Mishra, confirmed Faizabad DIG V K Garg.
What people who supported the camp said:
1. Uttar Pradesh governor Ram Naik: “No harm in self-defence camps. What is important to know is the intention behind it.” [as quoted by ANI]
2. VHP spokesperson Sharad Sharma:
“The Bajrang Dal is doing what the government should be doing: training citizens against terrorism. Now when they say terrorism has no religion, why are they linking the terrorists to a particular religion?…The arms drill is only a part of the overall training of the cadre. There is no separate arms training. It is an annual programme. We have organised similar events in 45 cities this year.” [as told to The Hindu]
3. VHP leader Ravi Anant:
“We train men to protect and help women. Other communities are welcome to do this.” [as quoted by NDTV]
4. Fringe right-wing organisation Hindu Sena national president Vishnu Gupta:
“Every person should be a militant. This training is not to attack anybody, this is for self-protection. There’s no harm in that.” [as told to HuffPost India]
What Oppositions say:
1. Congress national spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted:
“So Bajrang Dal doing arms training; preparing ground for BJP for UP elections.Polarisation in full swing. Modi Ji’s ” development” model!”
2. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Ashutosh tweeted:
“Arms Training to Bajrang Dal/creation of a private army is an indicator that BJP/RSS is planning big in UP to polarise voters for elections.”
3. All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted:
“These jokers should be send to Border…What will be the reaction if Muslim Organisation holds such arms training camps answer Skies will fall to say least.”
4. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati said in a statement:
“The holding of arms training camps by Bajrang Dal is an illegal act and the UP government should immediately ban them besides initiating strong action against those organising them.”
5. Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Rajendra Chaudhary:
“In the past as well, BJP has raised issues of love jihad and ghar wapsi besides Muzaffarpur riots to disturb communal harmony in the state. Now, Bajrang Dal training camp in Ayodhya is part of a larger plan of BJP to polarise voters.” [as quoted by PTI]
Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) stand:
Disassociating itself from the Bajrang Dal event, the BJP is playing safe.
BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain:
“Our security forces are sufficient to fight with terrorists. We have the Narendra Modi government. No one should be worried about it.” [as reported by NDTV]
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.