To ban or not to ban?
For the past three years or so, both the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have been carrying out highly publicised programmes wherein their cadres were given arms training in different parts of the country. These camps have been held in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, MP, West Bengal and Maharashtra and probably elsewhere. The blatantly provocative and violent nature of the mobilisation by these outfits has pushed the governments of three states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra – into demanding that the Union government ban the Bajrang Dal. At a high level meet with the state DGPs in September 2001, Union home minister, LK Advani was shocked by the vehemence with which the DGPs of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra argued for such a ban.
Prior to this meeting, on 24 April 2001, in a letter to Advani, Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh had stated that ‘along with SIMI, Bajrang Dal is responsible for communal mobilisation.’ In his letter, Singh pointed out that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, enacted by the Centre, empowers the central government to ban such organisations throughout the country. "I seek your indulgence and your active consideration that such organisations, like SIMI and Bajrang Dal, should be banned to enable us to curb their activities which are posing a great threat to communal harmony and to strengthen the hands of law enforcing agencies in maintaining communal harmony and peace."
The reply from the Union home minister was vague, and while SIMI was banned last September, the Bajrang Dal was spared similar action. Through such discriminatory action, the central government revealed its own mind on the kind of unlawful activities it considered punishable under the act and those it was prepared to turn a blind eye to.
After the genocide in Gujarat, there has been a widespread demand for a ban on the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. For two days, February 28 and March 1, with military precision, mobs of 5,000 and many more, targetted innocent civilians in different parts of Gujarat, armed with inflammable gas cylinders, petrol and kerosene cans. (Incidentally, the use of such inflammable materials for arson and murder attract the provisions of the Arms Act.) Muslims, men, women and children were hacked to pieces and burnt to death, their homes and businesses looted or torched. These attacks were preceded by the circulation, statewide, of highly obnoxious and incendiary pamphlets which could attract the provisions of 153-A and 153-B of the IPC: this alone is sufficient ground for a ban under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Is there a case for a ban against the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, on the grounds that they are armed organisations, repeatedly inciting and resorting to violence and attracting 153-A and 153-B?
It is under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (Act No. 37 of 1967) that the government is empowered to declare an association ‘unlawful’.
Under the Act,
‘unlawful activity’ means "any action taken by such individual or association (whether by committing an act or by words, either spoken or written, or by the signs or by visible representation or otherwise):
Ø "which is intended, or supports any claim, to bring about, on any ground whatsoever, the cession of a part of the territory in India or the secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union, or which incites any individual or group of individuals to bring such cession or secession;
Ø "which disclaims, questions, disrupts or is intended to disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India;
and ‘unlawful association’ means –
Ø "Any association which has for its object any unlawful activity or which encourages or aids persons to undertake any unlawful activity, or of which the members undertake such activity, or
Ø "Which has for its object any activity which is punishable under section 153 (A) or 153 (B) of the Indian Penal Code or which encourages or aids persons to undertake any such activity, or of which the members undertake any such activity."
CC has accessed the arguments which the state of Madhya Pradesh made to the Central government while pressing for a ban nearly a year ago, i.e. from July 2001.
In its arguments to the Union home minister arguing for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, the MP chief minister listed the activities of the outfit in Madhya Pradesh. These were:
"Bajrang Dal is very active in Harda, Indore, Sihor, Raysen, Jubbalpore, Gwalior, Bhopal, Thar, Hoshangabad, Khandwa, Khargone, Guna, Rajgadh, Narsinhpur, Sagar, Neemach, Ujjain and Vidisha zillas. Various movements in the country such as, construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, conversions, cow slaughter, terrorist attacks, cow-protection plan and opposition to Christian missionaries have been started by them.
"It should be noted that the activities carried out by them are aimed at inciting members of other communities, specially the Muslims and the Christians. Along with this, an atmosphere of communal animosity is created between the Hindus and the Muslims, sometimes causing law and order problems.
"Bajrang Dal started in 1985 from Tanadia village in Shajapur zilla. At present it has established its branches in all the zillas of Madhya Pradesh. It is associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its ladies’ wing is known as Durga Vahini.
"Between 30th September 1989 and 7th October 1989, Bajrang Dal workers participated in the programme of Shriram shila pooja and the carrying of bricks to Ayodhya for the construction of a Ram temple, organised at Bhopal. Section 144 was clamped on the town. Old Bhopal remained tense during the period of the programme.
"On 16.6.90, Bajrang Dal workers participated in a rally organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in support of the construction of the Ram temple. When this rath-yatra was stopped in Bihar, they played an active role in calling a Bhopal bandh.
"In May 1992, Bajrang Dal organised a rally in Bairasiya, Bhopal in which inflammatory slogans were shouted. Near Kalari mosque, a sword attack during an altercation between the Bajrang Dal members and Muslim shopkeepers of the area led to a fight. Bajrang Dal leader Rameshwar Sharma, raising objectionable slogans, spread the rumour that the Muslims had collected inside the Kalari mosque and that they had injured a shopkeeper named Chhaganlal. On hearing this, the Bajrang Dal crowd reached the Kalari mosque and started communal violence.
"Between 29.11.92 and 5.12.92, Vishwa Hindu Parishad observed a ‘challenge week’ in which the Bajrang Dal members played a major role. This created a tense situation in the city of Bhopal. This stressful situation led to communal riots breaking out in various parts of Bhopal on 7.12.92.
"On 28.1.95, a bandh was organised in Rajnathgaon and Ujjain. Similarly, on 7.3.95, in Bhojshala in Dhar, public prayers to Hanuman were organised and slogans of ‘Jai Siyaram’ were shouted.
"On 27.4.95, they went to Bhopal railway station to meet Sadhwi Ritambhara but when she did not turn up, they started breaking up things on the platform and outside the station and the police had to use tear gas to disperse them.
"Bhoj Smruti festival was celebrated in Bhoj between 11.2.97 and 15.2.97. The national leader of the Bajrang Dal, Mr. Jaibhansingh Pavaiyya, participated in this festival. Just before this, on 29.1.97 Mr. Jaibhansingh Pavaiyya had announced in Gwalior that during its recently held apex council meeting in Mathura, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had included Bhojshala-Dhar in its national agenda. In the same meeting, Acharya Giriraj announced that an agitation will be launched to stop the namaaz being held in Bhojshala. If the administration does not stop the namaaz, we will do so.
"On 11.3.97, the district convenor of Bajrang Dal, Raja Bahu Madane handed over a memo to the additional district collector, Dhar, which was addressed to the Honourable President and which threatened an agitation from 8.4.97. Due to this threat, the minority community continuously opposed the activity of these Hindu groups and on 18.3.97 they handed a memorandum to the district collector of Dhar, stating that this kind of activity is banned in this complex under the Archaeological regulations and that only namaaz could be conducted.
"On 5.4.97, under the leadership of Jaibhansingh Pavaiyya of the Bajrang Dal, a ‘cow protection’ rally was taken out in Bhopal. Prior to this rally, huge posters were put up at different places in Bhopal in which the role of the Bajrang Dal was mentioned. The posters depicted slaughtered cows. In the rally, the jeeps carried several cut-outs. One of them showed a man carrying a naked sword and a butcher. Another showed a butcher in the act of killing a cow and a man standing between the cow and the butcher, trying to save it. The following slogans were raised: ‘This is not the nation of katuas (a derogatory word for Muslims) and kazis, it is the nation of Vir Shivaji’; ‘Our weapons will be out wherever the blood of a cow falls’; ‘Now that the conflict has started on the border wipe out the rest of Pakistan from the map’; ‘Beat the cow-killers with shoes’; ‘We will not allow cows to be slaughtered, nor our country to be broken up’; ‘Katuas will be killed, they will call out to Ram’. During the rally it was announced that this country belongs to Hindus and that Bakri Id will be observed without cow slaughter. The fight which was started on 6th December will never end. What happened in Ayodhya on 6th December 92 is not the last verse of Uttarkand (the last section of Ramayan) but the verse of Balkand (the first section of Ramayan). The participants at the rally carried small trishuls.
"On 13.5.97, criticising the administration’s biased policy on entry of ordinary citizens at Bhojshala in Dhar, regional convenor of Bajrang Dal, Prakash Ratnaparkhi and national convenor of Durga Vahini, Sadhvi Ritambhara protested and threatened to launch a nation-wide agitation on this issue. Bajrang Dal and other Hindu organisations demanded entry for Hindus at Bhojshala every Tuesday to conduct Pooja. At some places in Dhar, posters proclaiming, ‘Arise, Proceed towards your goal, Let us dedicate ourselves to the Holy Feet of Ma Sharada at the Saraswati Temple, Bhojshala, every Tuesday at 9 PM’ appeared.
"On 25.9.97, at Khandwa’s LIG Colony, regional convenor of Bajrang Dal, Mr. Prakash Ratnaparkhi and other workers saw 4-5 butchers leading about 70 animals. The Bajrang Dal activists informed the Moghat road police station about it over the phone. In the meantime, the butcher community at Imlipura area got news of it and they also reached the site, leading to an altercation between them and the Bajrang Dal workers and a few injuries.
"On 1.7.97, a secret meeting was held at Indore which was attended by national chairman, Jaibhan Singh Pavaiyya, regional convenor Prakash Ratnaparkhi and Bajrang Dal workers from Dhar. At this meeting, a decision was taken regarding the Bajrang Dal workers reaching Bhojshala, Dhar on 15 August 1997 and it was announced that the national flag would be hoisted at Bhojshala on August 15, 1997.
"On 24.8.97, national chairman Jaibhan Singh Pavaiyya declared at a press conference that on any day in September, Bajrang Dal would launch a direct action operation called ‘Operation Gau Hatyare’ to stop cow slaughter. Under this operation, vehicles going to the slaughter-houses would be stopped on the highways. On 26.9.97, Jaibhan Singh Pavaiyya and Acharya Giriraj Kishor came to Bhopal. At a press conference, Mr. Pavaiyya stated that it is not correct to call Ram Janmabhoomi as Babri masjid. The court has allowed them to conduct pooja at the site and everyday pooja is being done there.
"On 14.9.97, the regional conference of Bajrang Dal, with national chairman Pavaiyya as the chief guest, concluded at Ujjain. On this occasion, Mr. Pavaiyya exhorted the workers to organise ‘Trishul Distribution Ceremony’ on a large scale.
"On 26.9.97, during a talk with newspersons at Shajapur, national chairman of Bajrang Dal, Jaibhan Singh Pavaiyya stated that if namaaz was conducted at the Ram Janamsthala at Ayodhya, then pooja will be conducted at the other disputed mosques.
"On 27.12.97, national chairman of Bajrang Dal, Jaibhan Singh Pavaiyya, addressing a rally at Devri in Sagar district, said that Muslims are unable to say Vande Mataram, and that Muslims are always trying to hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. He addressed the MLA Sunil Jain as Sunil Mohammad Khan. He also said that if someone chops off a cow’s head, then 100 Muslims’ hands should be chopped off. If the roads to Amarnath are blocked then the intelligent Muslims should understand that no tazias will be allowed to be taken out anywhere in the country. If we attacked, then we will extract revenge from you in every street of the country. A Hindu does not provoke anyone, but if he is provoked then he does not spare him.
"Bajrang Dal ordered its primary training camps to call co-ordinators and co-co-ordinators from every district, who were instructed on how to conduct ‘Operation Gau Hatyare’ to stop cow slaughter and were ordered to train Hindu boys in conducting raids.
"On 14.2.98, Bajrang Dal, Khargaon organised a Ram Yagna and Trishul Distribution Ceremony at the community hall of Ram Krishna colony. About 80-90 trishuls were distributed. At the ceremony, the national convenor, Surendra Jain stated in his speech that in every age, the lord appeared in human form to protect the saints, destroy evil and establish the rule of dharma but in Kaliyug, the lord has handed over this work to Bajrang Dal. It is the duty of every worker to protect the cow. He told the Muslims that if they wanted to stay in this country, then they would have to accept Ram and Krishna as their ancestors, acknowledge the cow as their mother, respect the sentiments of the Hindus and disown Babar and Aurangzeb. Rajiv Gandhi was asked to sacrifice his life to save the Babri Masjid... rule according to the Bible in Nagaland. You consume the water and food of India, then raise slogans for this country, stop saying ‘Pakistan zindabad’, address the cow as Ammi, proclaim Ram and Krishna as your ancestors and the insults inflicted by your ancestors will be forgiven.
"On 16.2.98, Bajrang Dal, Harda organised a Shri Ram Mahayagna and Trishul Distribution Ceremony in the courtyard of Gupteshwar Mandir, Harda. At this ceremony, an appeal was issued for Hindutva and protection of the progeny of cows. After the ceremony, a procession was taken out on the main roads where the following slogans were raised: ‘Beat the killers of cows with shoes’; ‘Force of the country, Bajrang Dal’; ‘Ban Cow Slaughter’; ‘If the calves are taken to slaughter, Blood will flow on the streets’; ‘Fold your hands and say Vande Mataram’; and ‘He who works for the benefit of Hindus will rule the country’.
"On 25.3.98, under the stewardship of Gauraksha Andolan Samiti (Committee for the Campaign to Save the Cow), Bhopal, workers of Bajrang Dal, Arya Samaj and Hindu Utsav Samiti observed a 2-day Maun Dharana (Silent Protest) at Bhavani Chowk to press for a ban on cow slaughter.
"Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad organised a regional conference from 10-12 April, 1998 at Diddayal Complex, Bhopal. The main focus of the conference was to organise a Bhojshala Mukti Andolan (‘Free Bhojshala Campaign’) under which it was decided to present a memorandum to the Honourable Governor, mob him and hold demonstrations against him as also to mob and hold demonstrations outside the residence of the Chief Minister on December 6, ’98.
"The regional convenor of Bajrang Dal ordered that August 14 should be observed as the ‘Undivided India Day’ and if the film ‘Jinnah’ was screened on August 15, it should be opposed. The cinema hall managers will be requested not to screen the film; if they refused to comply, direct action will be taken.
"On 17.1.99, a 2-day training programme was organised at Sarguja and Koriya districts under the joint aegis of Bajrang Dal and RSS where among other topics, defending Hindutva, religious conversions and cow slaughter were discussed.
"On 29.1.99, Father Joseph, principal of Saint Mary School, Vidisha filed a written complaint at the rural police station, Vidisha stating that at about 14.30 o’clock, two youths came to St. Mary School and asked him why he was called ‘Father’. One of these youths, who introduced himself as the president of Bajrang Dal said that this is the land of Ram and here a ‘Pita’ is called father. Similarly, again on 29.1.99, Father Joseph again filed a written complaint stating that 3 youths abused his security guard and threatened to kill him. On the basis of the security guard’s statement, the case was registered and on 31.1.99, the 3 men were arrested.
"On 14.3.99, at a press conference in Bhopal, Bajrang Dal’s national organiser, Mr Rajendra Pankaj opposed any attempt by the administration to nationalise temples."
If for the chief minister of MP, the above record consituted adequate grounds for a ban to be slapped on the Bajrang Dal, after the genocide in Gujarat, the need for a ban on the Bajrang Dal and the VHP becomes compelling. (See ‘Pamphlet poison’ section)
Sections 3 and 4 of the Act elaborate the procedure by which an outfit may be declared unlawful. Section 7 details how the central government then has the power to prohibit the use of funds by such unlawful associations. Under Section 7(1), once an organisation has been declared unlawful, the central government may, by an order, seize assets and funds, freeze accounts and prohibit financial transactions. This section, which deals with the funding of such bodies, could help sever the critical link between ideology and paid cadre who, like mercenaries, transmit the hate ideology, carry arms, plunder, rape and kill.
Under the Act, an order freezing funds must be served in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code and can be challenged within a fortnight before a district court.
Similarly, under section 8, the Act gives the central government the power to notify any place used for the purposes of this unlawful association — be it a house, building tent or vessel. Any articles used by the association for unlawful assembly may be prohibited from use by the district magistrate. Shakhas, secret camps and hideouts of the VHP and Bajrang Dal could, if included in the ban, be seriously affected.
The 49th All India Summer Training Camp organised by Ritambhara Vishva Vidyapeeth will be held at Satapura, district, Dangs, Gujarat, from May 3 to May 22 for women and children. The camp will include lathi-training, rifle-shooting, meditation, yogasana, prayers, discourses and discussions on cultural and spiritual subjects. Children between the age group 10 to 12 years can enrol. Call xxx xx xx (phone number withheld by us) for details.
(The Asian Age, 27 March 2002).
Killer ‘trishuls’ in hand, the sangh parivar tries…
ü 40 lakh ‘trishuls’ – Rampuri knives that can kill, craftily disguised as a religious symbol. distributed by the Bajrang Dal countrywide (Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot).
ü A trishul, like the kirpan, is exempt from the provisions of the Indian Arms Act.
ü This factor is hampering the police administration and governments from preventing the blatant arming of Indian civil society on religious lines.
ü Rajasthan is, today, the location of a sinister re-play – this time through the Bajrang Dal’s Trishul Diksha Samarohs and the VHP’s Jalabhishek programme – of the earlier bloodletting under the cover of Ram shila poojans and Advani’s rathyatra.
ü How will the Indian State and civil society respond?
(Communalism Combat, November 2001)
Desi Mossad is getting ready at Bajrang Dal’s Ayodhya camp
"I, as a member of Bajrang Dal, swear in the name of Lord Hanuman to always remain prepared to protect my country, religion and culture,’’ 150 young men, between 15 and 21 years of age, recite in unison. After practising target shooting with air guns at Karsevakpuram (in Ayodhya) for the past one week, the group is attending the convocation function presided over by the national co-convenor of the Dal, Prakash Sharma. The training camp ended last evening amid loud chants of ‘Jai Sriram’ and ‘Jai Bajrangbali’. Asked what he did at the camp, an activist whispers, "I am from the secret service of Bajrang Dal. Israel’s Mossad is my inspiration. I can’t tell you more."
Bajrang Dal officials take great pains to explain that their camp was more to impart physical fitness to the cadre than giving them shooting practice. Dal leaders claim this is not the first time that they were imparting arms training to their workers. "We are training them in handling firearms since 1996. Ayodhya is only one of the 25 such camps planned between May 10 (in Karnataka) and July 30 (at Guwahati)," Sharma says.
Dal office-bearers feel outraged on being asked about the reason for training their cadre in handling guns. "Have you ever put this question to the Scouts or National Cadet Corps officials? If they are preparing young generation for serving the country, so are we," Sharma says. "Arms training, in fact, bolsters their morale and self-esteem."
(The Indian Express, 30 June 2000)
Hindu groups organise arms training camps
Lucknow: Right-wing Hindu groups organised a 10-day camp in Ayodhya last week to train their cadres in marksmanship. At the camp, organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its affiliate, the Bajrang Dal, cadres were being trained to shoot with air guns... "This is the induction stage. Later on, we will train our boys in shooting real guns and rifles. This is part of our drill to ensure the protection of Hindus," Ved Prakash Sachan, Bajrang Dal chief in Uttar Pradesh, said.
The camp at Karsevakpuram, which is being supervised by Sachan, is not the first to be conducted in Uttar Pradesh. "Similar camps have been held in Varanasi, Mathura and Meerut. Those who prove their shooting skills will be picked for advanced courses," Sachan said. Some residents of Ayodhya suspect that the groups are clandestinely training their cadres to fire more sophisticated weapons.
(India Abroad News Service, July 7, 2000)
Bajrang Dal held arms training camp in Bengal too
Kolkata: Two arms training camps were silently organised in West Bengal recently where 114 activists of the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini were also trained in the use of guns. The first camp was held at the Kamalpur High School in Chakdah in Nadia between May 26 and June 9. Fifty-two young men, aged between 15 and 25, were imparted training there. Apart from yoga, nijukt (karate) and the use of lathis, the Dal activists were trained to use rifles. They were also taught the methods of crawling and jumping through fire in full military style. Most of those trained were freshers and all the 10 instructors were from West Bengal.
The second camp, organised by the Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the VHP, was held at Kashimbazar in Murshidabad from May 30 to June 7. In all, 62 women participated in the camp where they obtained similar military training as their male counterparts.
Admitting that the camps were indeed held, state general secretary of the VHP, Ajoy Kumar Nandi, said on Monday that such training camps were being regularly held in the state for the last 10 years. "There is nothing secret about it. Every year, we organise such camps. The police know about this but they have not interfered so far," Nandi said. He did not say from where his organisation was collecting the rifles.
Nandi also said that the VHP had already raised a force of about 3,000 men and women belonging to the Bajrang Dal and the Durga Vahini in this state who had been imparted military training. "We will raise a 30,000-strong force in this state within this year, as part of our central programme to raise a 30 lakh strong force nation-wide," he added. So far, the trainees had mostly come from Malda, Hooghly and North 24 Parganas districts, Nandi said.
The VHP leader explained that the purpose of raising such a force was to "defend the society and the state." The Durga Vahini had been specifically instructed to intervene in incidents like kidnapping of women in the border areas. Only a select group from among the force would be imparted special training to combat the Pakistan-sponsored Inter-Services Intelligence, he said.
(The Times of India, June 2000)
Of guns and Hindu Rashtra
Lucknow: Rat-a-tat-tat. The deafening sound of gun shots disturbs the serene surroundings with uncanny regularity. Tracing the source through overgrown shrubs and grass, one comes across 15 men in the 22-30 age group lying on their stomachs with firearms in their hands. They are practising on different targets comprising chiefly glass bottles. Giving them training is an older man, who appears conversant with guns. The men listen to him intently and then begin their practice session like people possessed.
Their dictum is simple: tooth for a tooth and eye for an eye. ‘Hindu’ power flows from the barrel of the gun for them. They are members of the newly-floated Hindu Rashtriya Mukti Army, an offshoot of the Shiv Sena, and are attending an arms training camp over the past 15 days at a destination about 90 km. from the state capital.
(The Times of India, 29 September 2001)