The Bajrang Dal is set to hold its controversial self-defence training camps in Rajasthan after a similar exercise in Uttar Pradesh in which members of the Hindu right-wing organisation brandished lathis, swords and firearms as part of the routine, a leader said.
The outfit has not taken permission from local authorities for the camps, arguing that it has been holding such programmes for the past 27 years and never used any objectionable weapons.
Jalore additional superintendent of police Raghunath Garg said the administration was not aware of any such camp. “If they hold weapons training, it is against the law. We will take action,” he warned.
Tonk district collector Mahavir Prasad Sharma agreed. “They need to take permission for any such gathering where weapons will be on display.”
The week-long Shaurya camps, in which members are trained counter-terrorism tactics, will be held in Jalore district’s Bhinmal, 400km from Jaipur, from May 31 and at Newai in Tonk district from June 9.
Earlier this month, Bajrang Dal camps in Ayodhya and Noida in Uttar Pradesh came under scrutiny as its members used swords and firearms during drills.
Besides, the outfit released a video on self-defence that shows terrorists in skull caps and robes, triggering outrage that it was trying to cleave the electorate in poll-bound UP on religious lines. A leader of the outfit, Mahesh Mishra, was arrested for hurting religious sentiments of Muslims and spreading communal hatred.
Bajrang Dal leaders in Jaipur brushed off the UP incident.
Ravindra Sharma, a Bajrang Dal member and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Jaipur media-in-charge, confirmed plans on the Jaipur camp.
He alleged that the Samajwadi Party government in UP gave the camps communal colour. “We are not against Muslims. We are working for the welfare of the country,” he said.
“If we want to train people to defend themselves in case of a terror attack or make Hindu girls aware about being exploited by Muslim men or prevent cows from being slaughtered, how is that communal?” asked the outfit’s Jaipur convener Ashok Singh Rajawat.
Around 300 members between 15 and 35 years will attend each camp in Rajasthan. Leaders from the Bajrang Dal and VHP will give weapons training and hold academic sessions on Indian history, culture, and society.