The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is on a recruiting spree.
The Hindutva organisation is looking for people who will carry out the task of saving the Ram Setu. It has launched a dharma yodha bharti abhiyaan.
Under this, members of the VHP have been calling upon people to participate in the movement to protect the bridge, which has been at the centre of the debate surrounding the Sethusamudram canal project.
“We have been making announcements during Durgotasav celebrations across the country. We will also reach out to people during Ramlila,” said Venkatesh Abdeo, All-India joint secretary of the VHP. “We hope to recruit at least 5 lakh people.”
The Sethusamudram shipping canal, a central government project, involves building a shipping canal that will link the Palk bay and the Gulf of Mannar.
The channel, which will pass through the islands that form the Ram Setu or Adam’s Bridge will allow ships and boats to navigate the passage between India and Sri Lanka without having to circle the latter.
The Hindutva lobby, however, is concerned that the project will destroy the Ram Setu, and hence a piece of ancient Indian history.
The saffron family is know for its brigade of religious helpers, who can ‘turn into warriors when necessary’ — like the kar sevaks who took it upon themselves to bring down the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya to make place for the Ram temple.
The new recruits will undertake a shila yatra, touring nearly six lakh villages with stones from the Gandhamadan mountain located near Rameshwaram.
“This is the mountain from where the stones for the Ram Setu came,” said Abdeo, who also heads Ram Setu Bachao Manch. “We will tour with these stones and make people aware that the government is questioning the very existence of Lord Ram.”
These dharma yodhas (religious warriors) will also hold demonstrations if and when necessary. “Hum Ramayan ke naam par Mahabharat karenge (We will fight the Mahabharat to protect the honour of the Ramayan),” Abdeo said.