The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) says it is carrying out a survey in West Bengal of Hindus “forced out” of their homes and deprived of their property, a move that has potential to stoke communal tensions.
The survey was a precursor to a nation-wide exercise, international working president of the VHP Praveen Togadia told HT in an exclusive interview on Wednesday night, a few days after similar claims of Hindu families migrating out of Kairana town in Uttar Pradesh made headlines but were found to be untrue.
“Every village, every locality in cities and towns will be surveyed by us to find out where Hindus were forced to migrate under threat or force,” said Togadia, who was barred from entering West Bengal after a rally in April 2015.
On Thursday, the VHP announced in Delhi its new campaign ‘palayan nahi parakram’ (no migration, but aggression) that it says would teach Hindus to fight for their rights.
“We don’t necessarily mean fighting with arms when we say ‘parakram’…If you resist being forced out and fight attacks against you, it is also ‘parakram’ (aggression),” Surendra Jain, international joint general secretary of VHP, said.
Jain said that Hindus and Muslims have blood ties but cautioned that if Hindus are not “protected”, there would be “consequences”.
The proclamation is especially worrisome for Bengal where 27% of the population, or 24.7 million, is Muslim, the second highest for a state in India.
The VHP has marshalled its village and block units for the Bengal survey. “It is not a question of a small town in UP but it has happened throughout the country, be it West Bengal or Maharashtra or Gujarat,” Togadia said.
Migration was a “human rights issue” and they would raise it at all possible platforms -- state assemblies, Parliament, judiciary and rights panels, Togadia said.
But Trinamool leaders warned that the party would thwart, politically, attempts to create discord in the state. “This is Bengal, not UP. Here, we all live peacefully,” said TMC leader Sheikh Nurul Islam.
Seeking a judicial probe into the alleged exodus of Hindus from Kairana, Jain said the Centre should undertake a nation-wide survey to collate data on “demographic imbalance”.
The VHP has also thrown its weight behind the Gau Raksha Dal, which was recently accused of force-feeding cow dung to beef transporters. “When the state fails to implement the law, it becomes imperative for people to do the needful. If a woman is being raped, people should not watch as bystanders…” Jain said.
It has also disapproved of the idea of allowing Islamic banks in the country, pointing out that it would be in contravention of the banking laws. “Even where there are Islamic banks, they have been directly and indirectly found linked to terror activities,” Jain said.