Crawl in a trench, climb a rope, load a gun: A day at a ‘valour training camp’ of Bajrang Dal
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) imparted ‘military training’ to around 150 volunteers of its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, last week inside the Sunderbans in south Bengal.
The participants were selected from one-day camps organised in various districts of south Bengal in November and early December. HT took a look in the camp which was held in a secondary school campus in Kultali block, run by an NGO affiliated to the VHP. “The objective is to ensure Hindus are prepared to defend themselves against aggression from members of other religious communities, besides helping the army in the case of external aggression,” said Kushal Kundu, the VHP’s assistant secretary for south Bengal who was in charge of conducting the week-long ‘Yuva Shaurya Training Camp’ for 156 volunteers.
At the camp, trainees can be seen undergoing a variety of exercises such as crawling through a narrow, muddy trench covered with a heap of leaves, and then using a rope strung across two trees 30 feet apart to move from one tree to another. They then had to climb a 30 feet-high bamboo structure before having to walk on a single bamboo pole placed horizontally 15 feet above the ground. Apart from this drill for a week, there were sessions on defending oneself with sticks and dummy swords, loading and unloading of rifles, and using the nunchaku — a weapon used in martial arts.
Volunteers were also given weapons training using four air guns. The manuals they were given however, covered the use of a .22 caliber bolt action rifle .
Sohan Singh Solanki, national co-convener of VHP said, “They (trainees) are getting habituated to a hard life and self-dependence. These lessons with remain with them forever”. The day for trainees started at 5am and ended at 10.30pm. The volunteers slept on heaps of straw on concrete floors and had to wash their own clothes and dishes, apart from cleaning the camp every day.
The food was basic — muri-ghughni (puffed rice-gram curry) for breakfast, rice, lentil soup and vegetables for lunch, muri-chanachur (puffed rice-fried snack) in the evening and bread/rice, lentil soup and vegetables for dinner. There were sessions on ‘intellectual and spiritual development’ and prayers. Those who attended, paid for their own clothes and transport and contributed another ?350 per person for food. The trainees were clad in a white shirt, blue shorts and a saffron scarf and chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ rented the air.
According to the VHP members, the participants were chosen from camps held in every district in the state. Some of those receiving training here will be chosen for higher level of training during regional and national level camps, said Sourish Mukherjee, spokesperson for south Bengal VHP.
The camp concluded on December 23.