A mas marriage organised buy the VHP in Kumargran in Bengal’s Alipurduar district in December 2018.(Sourced)
A mas marriage organised buy the VHP in Kumargran in Bengal’s Alipurduar district in December 2018.(Sourced)

Sangh Parivar’s mass marriage of tribal people hits speed breaker in Bengal

The Mamata Banerjee administration has started treating mass marriages as “conversion drive”.
By Snigdhendu Bhattacharya | Hindustan Times, Kolkata
UPDATED ON FEB 10, 2020 08:33 PM IST

Mass marriages of tribal people from poor economic backgrounds conducted by different Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)-affiliated organizations have hit a hurdle in West Bengal with the Mamata Banerjee administration treating these events as the Sangh Parivar’s attempt to convert the followers of the Sari/Sarna religion into Hindus.

After Malda district’s top Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders were booked under non-bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 in connection with a mass marriage being organized for over a hundred tribal couples last week, police in Alipurduars district have stalled another ceremony that was scheduled in Alipurduar town on Monday.

A day earlier, they had questioned the organizers for hours, stopped the vehicles the latter were using to campaign for Monday’s event and seized microphones. The police also dismantled a pandal erected on a field for the event.

“The event was not allowed because the organisers had not taken permission either from the office of the sub divisional officer or from the police,” said Rabin Thapa, inspector-in-charge at the police station.

Another senior police officer, who did not want to be identified, said that the police acted after a leaflet published by the organizers of the mass marriage ceremony came to their notice. It stated that the marriages will be conducted in the Hindu tradition. “We were receiving complaints from the local tribal leadership, that followers of the Sarna religion will be converted to Hinduism during that programme,” said the officer.

The latest event in Alipurduar was being organised by the RSS-affiliated Shree Hari Satang Samiti, in association with Alipurduar Ganabibaho Samiti, which, too, is an RSS-inspired organisation. “We have been conducting similar events for several years. Each time, we only informed the administration in writing about the event and even received the administration’s assistance. Never did the question of obtaining written permission arise,” Ratan Tarafdar, secretary of Alipurduar Ganabibaho Samiti, said.

Various RSS-affiliated organizations, including the VHP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Sewa Bharati and Shri Hari Satsang Samiti have been organizing mass marriages for several years. but this is the first time they are facing obstacles from the administration.

The impetus to stop mass marriages may have come on February 2, when activists of the Jharkhand Disom Party (JDP) vandalised the Malda venue of the mass marriage being organised by the VHP. They had alleged that the marriages were being conducted in the Vedic way, involving Brahmins, whereas tribal marriages involve no Brahmins.

“These mass marriages are RSS’ ploy to turn Sarna followers into Hindus, so that the number of Hindus increases and Sarna followers decrease in the Census. Showing us in lower numbers is their way of depriving followers of Sarna of a separate religion code,” said Lakshmi Kanta Hansda, a Bharatiya Adivasi Ekta Manch leader, whose organization along with several other tribal outfits including the JDP, has been campaigning for months for a separate religion code for Sarna followers in the Census. “We will resist the RSS’s drive to convert tribals to Hinduism and show Sarna followers in lower numbers,” declared JDP state unit secretary Mohan Hansda.

The campaign also urged the state’s Scheduled Tribe (ST) population to list Sarna as their religion during the census of 2021.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee began raising the issue on February 5, just days after the Malda incident.

“Three days ago, in Malda district, tribal women were being converted in the name of marriage. I thank my administration that they acted. One VHP person has been arrested and the rest are evading the police. They are shameless,” the CM had said at a public meeting in Nadia district.

On Monday, she reiterated that her government would not allow such events to take place. “The government will arrange for a fund for the marriage of tribal people from poor economic backgrounds,” Banerjee said.

RSS’ south Bengal unit secretary Jisnu Basu lashed out at Banerjee and accused her of dividing people in the name of caste and religion.

“I also smell a conspiracy. Are all of the state’s tribal people followers of Sarna religion, according to the census of 2011? Aren’t there tribal people who consider themselves as Hindus? In that case, is there a concerted effort to reduce the number of Hindus?” Basu asked.

In the Census, Sari and Sarna are included as ‘other religious practices’. In the 2011 census, 942,297 people in West Bengal, or 1.03 per cent of the state’s population, had registered themselves as followers of other religious practices, while the state’s ST population stood at 5.8 per cent.

The VHP’s Malda unit leadership, including its district unit president Malay Mukherjee have so far evaded the police in connection with the FIR filed against them.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Lakha Sidhana and a group of around 35 of his supporters were arrested by Moga police on Thursday.(HT Photo)
Lakha Sidhana and a group of around 35 of his supporters were arrested by Moga police on Thursday.(HT Photo)

Who is former gangster Lakha Sidhana, accused of R-Day violence?

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 08:41 AM IST
Sidhana has denied charges of instigating protesters and said there is no video or photo of him at the Red Fort area.
Close
People warm themselves around a bonfire on a cold winter morning at Mayur Vihar, in New Delhi, earlier this week. (Raj K Raj/HT photo)
People warm themselves around a bonfire on a cold winter morning at Mayur Vihar, in New Delhi, earlier this week. (Raj K Raj/HT photo)

Cold wave likely to persist over NW India till Sunday: IMD

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Smriti Sinha
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 08:20 AM IST
Another Western Disturbance is likely to bring snowfall to the Western Himalayan region from February 1 and may bring light rain to Delhi on February 3 following which, minimum temperatures are likely to fall again
Close
A medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to the frontline worker during a vaccination drive in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI)
A medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to the frontline worker during a vaccination drive in Kolkata on Monday. (ANI)

Nearly 3 lakh people vaccinated on Day 12 of Covid-19 inoculation drive

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 08:07 AM IST
In the first phase of the drive, 30 million health and frontline workers are to be vaccinated while in the second stage those above 50 years of age, and those below 50 years of age with comorbidities or with a high risk of infection will be given the jab.
Close
The mosque site in Dhannipur village near Ayodhya town.(HT Photo)
The mosque site in Dhannipur village near Ayodhya town.(HT Photo)

Ayodhya Dhannipur mosque complex layout ready for submission

By Oliver Fredrick | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Lucknow
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 08:02 AM IST
  • The Dhannipur project includes a mosque, hospital, museum, library, community kitchen, Indo-Islamic cultural research centre and a publication house.
Close
Last year, PM Modi while addressing the event had praised the cadets’ efforts in rescue and relief operations during natural calamities and also appreciated their work towards the promotion of initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.(ANI)
Last year, PM Modi while addressing the event had praised the cadets’ efforts in rescue and relief operations during natural calamities and also appreciated their work towards the promotion of initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.(ANI)

PM Modi to address NCC rally in Delhi at 12pm

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 07:54 AM IST
According to a release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Modi will inspect the Guard of Honour and review the march past by various NCC contingents.
Close
Farmers remove tents from a protest site at the Ghazipur border on Wednesday.(Sakib Ali/HT Photos)
Farmers remove tents from a protest site at the Ghazipur border on Wednesday.(Sakib Ali/HT Photos)

Republic Day violence: FIRs, blame-game, infighting mar farmers' protest

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 07:43 AM IST
Two factions have withdrawn their support in the aftermath of Red Fort breach on January 26. Several farmers' leaders may face action as Centre, Delhi Police are engaged in reviewing what unfolded at the heart of the Capital on Republic Day.
Close
A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine(AP)
A medical staff member prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine(AP)

LIVE: Mexico reports 17,944 new coronavirus cases, 1,623 deaths

By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 08:34 AM IST
  • India is currently conducting the world’s largest vaccination drive against Covid-19, administering shots of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine, Covishield, and Bharat Biotech International Limited’s Covaxin.
The protesting farmers continued to allege that ‘anti-social’ elements orchestrated the Jan 26 violence in order to torpedo their peaceful protests against the laws.(ANI Photo)
The protesting farmers continued to allege that ‘anti-social’ elements orchestrated the Jan 26 violence in order to torpedo their peaceful protests against the laws.(ANI Photo)

LIVE: No bullet injury, farmer died after tractor overturned, says UP Police

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Harshit Sabarwal, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 08:02 AM IST
Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava said on Wednesday that 19 people had been arrested so far and more than 25 criminal cases were registered. “No culprit will be spared. 19 accused have been arrested and 50 people have been detained. They are being questioned,” he said.
India’s electronics and information technology ministry has informed the Chinese firms that the ban on 59 apps, including TikTok. (Reuters)
India’s electronics and information technology ministry has informed the Chinese firms that the ban on 59 apps, including TikTok. (Reuters)

Beijing opposes New Delhi move to retain ban on 59 Chinese apps

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 06:28 AM IST
  • The ban was imposed last June on grounds of national security, months after the military standoff emerged into the open.
Close
The education ministry has already announced that the joint entrance examination for admission to engineering colleges will be held online four times a year from this year.(iStock/HT Archive)
The education ministry has already announced that the joint entrance examination for admission to engineering colleges will be held online four times a year from this year.(iStock/HT Archive)

Ministries at odds over NEET exam

By Sunetra Choudhury, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:53 AM IST
  • Education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal’s proposal raised the hopes of thousands of students who were hoping to get two options.
Close
All other activities are permitted outside containment zones, which are epicentres of Covid-19 infections and have restricted entry and stringent perimeter control.(Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times)
All other activities are permitted outside containment zones, which are epicentres of Covid-19 infections and have restricted entry and stringent perimeter control.(Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times)

Swimming pools to movie halls, more curbs relaxed

By Neeraj Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:48 AM IST
  • The guidelines for “Surveillance, Containment and Caution”, applicable for February 1-28, also said the civil aviation ministry may take a call on further opening up of international air travel in consultation with the MHA.
Close
Two days before the violence broke out in parts of Delhi, Tomar maintained the Centre had made its best offer and would wait for the farmers to return to the negotiating table.(AP Photo)
Two days before the violence broke out in parts of Delhi, Tomar maintained the Centre had made its best offer and would wait for the farmers to return to the negotiating table.(AP Photo)

Govt indicates offer to farmers still on table, channel for talks kept open

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:39 AM IST
  • The offer, however, is seen by many farm leaders as a tactic by the government to buy time, particularly keeping in mind the Punjab assembly elections due in February 2022.
Close
Damaged security screening stations at Red Fort, a day after the violence in the Capital. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Damaged security screening stations at Red Fort, a day after the violence in the Capital. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Actor, ex-gangster at centre of farmers’ ire

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
UPDATED ON JAN 28, 2021 05:36 AM IST
  • The farmers accused the two of taking control of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha stage on Monday evening, and pushing farmers to march onto the Outer Ring Road rather than the route decided with the police.
Close
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s memorial in Chennai. (HT FILE PHOTO).
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s memorial in Chennai. (HT FILE PHOTO).

Jayalalithaa’s residence: Madras HC allows state to hold event on January 28

By Divya Chandrababu
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 01:44 AM IST
  • Even though the case was posted for February 4, the court heard the case on Wednesday based on the request of the former Tamil Nadu CM's family.
Close
The court said there were 189 proposals regarding appointments pending with the government as on December 31.(Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times)
The court said there were 189 proposals regarding appointments pending with the government as on December 31.(Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times)

Fix timeline for judicial appointments, says SC

By Utkarsh Anand, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 28, 2021 01:40 AM IST
  • An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde said that all endeavours should be made to ensure appointments come through in a time-bound manner.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP