Nearly 70 volunteers of the Durga Vahini, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad women’s wing, learned to shoot with air rifles and use cane sticks to defend themselves at a seven-day weapons training camp that concluded at the Bharatiya Shiksha Mandir Inter College here on Monday.
The camp started on May 24 in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was held at a time when a similar Bajrang Dal camp in Ayodhya had raised eyebrows.
Most of the Durga Vahini volunteers were teenagers. Seven women, known as matrishakti in VHP terminology, also underwent training at the camp from senior Durga Vahini office bearers.
The volunteers demonstrated how to use cane sticks on Monday evening in the presence of senior office bearers of the VHP.
Umakant Dwivedi, the VHP’s district secretary (organisation) currently based in Pratapgarh, told HT, “This was a sanskar training camp in which girl volunteers were taught Indian values and cultures. We also provided them shashtra prasikshan (arms training) for their self-defence. They were also given judo and karate (martial arts tips).”
“They learned different ways to defend themselves. The training has boosted their self-confidence and will come handy all their life. They will impart training to the girl volunteers in their respective regions,” Dwivedi said.
When asked if the volunteers were given air rifle training, a senior VHP office bearer Diwakar said, “If volunteers underwent arms training, what is wrong in it? This is for self-defence. This is not a new camp. Such camps keep taking place.”
Girls from Pratapgarh, Chandauli and other areas attended the training programme.
Mohini Sonkar, another trainee, said, “This is a wonderful camp. We learned Yogasana, Surya namaskar and the use of cane sticks. The main focus was on self-defence and Indian values.”
Mansi Sahu, another volunteer from Pratapgarh, confirmed that there was ‘shashtra prashikshan’ (arms training) and she attended it.
She, however, refused to disclose more details but said she would like to utilise her skills to train her peers.