NEW DELHI: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) defended on Thursday a right-wing affiliate’s weapons training programme as routine exercise and dismissed outrage over a controversial video as “roguish mischievousness”.
The VHP defence came a day after a Bajrang Dal leader was arrested in Lucknow over a training video which purportedly showed activists training at a ‘self-defence camp’ in Ayodhya, taking on volunteers dressed as terrorists in robes and skull caps.
The Bajrang Dal is the VHP’s youth wing.
UP’s ruling party Samajwadi Party alleged that the training camp was aimed at creating polarisation ahead of assembly polls in the state next year.
“The kind of training provided at these camps is perfectly within the ambit of the law. Thousands of akharas (branches) all over the country impart the same kind of training and all this is done publicly and nothing is ever under wraps,” VHP joint secretary Surendra Jain said.
He said training camps have been held for the last 25 years and attempts to portray this as a conspiracy hatched by the Central government or link it to the state elections was aimed at polarising the society.
Responding to question on why “terrorists” were made to wear skull caps, he said the outfits and robes were inspired from what is shown in the media.
“The videos released by ISIS have been showing (Osama bin) Laden, Yakub and (Abu Bakr al) Baghdadi in a particular kind of attire. Therefore, it is these terrorist organisations which should take the blame for the generalisation of this attire. Bajrang Dal was only following a media pattern,” Jain said.