Volunteers of right-wing Hindu groups are getting arms training primarily to prevent and counter terrorist attacks, but the exercise has an additional motive. This is apparently preparation for construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya in election-bound Uttar Pradesh.
The Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its women’s wing, Durga Vahini, are conducting self-defence training camps in which members brandish lathis, swords and firearms as part of the routine.
The participants at the camps on the outskirts of Bhopal have been told to be “ready for any situation” that might impede the construction of the temple in Ayodhya.
“We are happy that our women’s wing is showing immense enthusiasm in training for construction of the Ram temple. They will definitely play an important role,” said Rajesh Tiwari, the VHP’s regional head for Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, on Monday.
The Durga Vahini’s Bhopal convener Kirti Dixit agreed.
“We’re asked to be prepared to tackle any situation that may come in way of construction of temple”
She revealed to Hindustan Times the message sent out to the trainees at the camp: “Durga Vahini came into existence after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. That’s why we are asked to be prepared and get ourselves trained to tackle any situation in the future that may come in the way of construction of a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.”
The Hindu right-wing, including the Bajrang Dal and VHP, has been pushing to build a Ram temple on the disputed site in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid stood until 1996.
The VHP, which had earlier put a moratorium on the issue, has changed its stand and was now collecting stones for the temple.
During the April-May Kumbh mela in Ujjain, the VHP announced that it will start building the temple from December 31.
“We kept our patience but won’t wait beyond December,” Tiwari said, addressing sadhus at the religious festival held once in 12 years.
Days later, at the Vicharik Khumb organized by the state government, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat raised the temple issue but did not back the VHP’s call.
VHP appears to be readying its volunteers for the temple in communally sensitive UP
The VHP, which held similar self-defence camps in Noida, Rajasthan and Gujarat, appears to be readying its volunteers for the temple in communally sensitive Uttar Pradesh where polls are due in early 2017. The move could polarise voters in UP where the BJP won 71 of 80 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The organisation made its intentions clear during its week-long weapons training camp, called Shourya Prashikshan Shivir or bravery training camp, for woman activists on the outskirts of Bhopal. It said the volunteers will have to “tackle any obstacle” against building the temple.
The temple may be the immediate goal but the larger objective of the camp attended by about 1,000 activists was to save the “Hindu rashtra” and its “sanskriti”, VHP functionaries said.