Bajrang Dal

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Bajrang Dal
Bajrang Dal Logo.jpg
Motto "Service, safety, and culture"
Formation 1 October 1984; 30 years ago (1984-10-01)
National Convener Rajesh Pandey
Parent organization Vishva Hindu Parishad
Website www.bajrangdal.org

The Bajrang Dal is a militant Hindu organization that forms the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).[1][2] The ideology of the organization is based on fundamentalist Hindutva.[2][3] Founded on 1 October 1984 in Uttar Pradesh, it has since spread throughout India, although its most significant base remains the northern and central portions of the country. The group runs about 2,500 akhadas, similar to the shakhas of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The name "Bajrang" is a reference to the Hindu deity Hanuman.

The Bajrang Dal's slogan is 'sevā surakṣā sanskṛti' or "service, safety, and culture." One of the main goals of the Dal is to build the Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya, the Krishnajanmabhoomi temple in Mathura and the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, which are currently disputed places of worship. Other goals include protecting India's "Hindu" identity from the perceived dangers of communism, Muslim demographic growth and Christian conversion, as well as the prevention of cow slaughter.

Origin

In October 1984, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) initiated the practice of regular processions to be held in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. These processions were called "Ram-Janaki Rathayatra" and were aimed at "awakening the society." While the VHP did not officially claim any anti-religion drivers for this practice, many sections of the society in India viewed this as a pro-Hindu movement. As a result, there was an environment of communal tension and threat surrounding this procession. Under these circumstances, 'holy saints' (members of VHP) called upon the youth to protect the procession, thus the Bajrang Dal was formed. Eventually, most of the members of Bajrang Dal have come to be very proud of the group and the group now has members outside of Uttar Pradesh as well.

Ideology and Agenda

Among the goals of the Bajrang Dal in modern India is a reversing of the invasions by Muslim conquerors and British imperialism. They include demands to convert historical monuments currently disputed into temples.[4] The Bajrang Dal asserts on its website that they are neither communal or divisive. In particular, they say[5]

"The Bajrang Dal is not against any religion. It acknowledges respecting the faith of other people, but expects and asserts for a similar respect of the Hindu Sentiments. Being Hindu, the Bajrang Dal believes in validity of All Religions and Respect for all human beings, irrespective of caste, color, and religion (Aatmasvat Sarva Bhuteshu). It is for this purpose that the Bajrang Dal has undertaken various public-awakening campaigns. It does not believe in violence or any unlawful activity."

In addition, Bajrang Dal said they would circulate five million handbills, giving details about the activities of Christian missionaries. Bajrang Dal national convenor Surendra Kumar Jain said the outfit would peacefully expose what he described as questionable means adopted by some Christian bodies to convert poor people under a world evangelical plan that specially targeted Hindu-majority India.[6]

Bajrang Dal, together with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has spoken out against Islamic Terrorism in India and have announced that they will carry out awareness campaigns across the nation. They have stated that Islamic terrorists are hiding among the general population in India and mean to expose them.[7] Bajrang Dal convener Prakash Sharma stressed that they were not targeting any particular community, but were trying to "wake up" the people of India, particularly the youth, to the dangers of terrorism in the light of the 2002 Akshardham Temple attack perpetrated by terrorist linked to the militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba.[8][9] Bajrang Dal also share VHP's position against the slaughter of cows (regarded as sacred by many Hindus) and have supported proposed bans on bovine slaughter.[10]

The Gujarat Bajrang Dal is at the forefront of the anti-beauty contest agitation. Another of its objectives is preventing Hindu-Muslim marriages.[11]

Controversies

  • According to the Human Rights Watch, Bajrang Dal had been involved in riots against Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat violence.[12]
  • In April 2006, two Bajrang Dal activists were killed in nearby Nanded in the process of bomb making. The same group of activists were also suspected for perpetrating the 2003 Parbhani mosque blasts.[13] Those arrested later told interrogators they wanted to avenge several blasts across the country.[14] NDTV subsequently accused the police of a coverup in Nanded[15] A report by the Secular Citizen's Forum & PUCL, Nagpur claimed to have found maps of mosques at the home of one of the deceased.[16]
  • The VHP leader, Praveen Togadia, was arrested in April 2003 after distributing tridents to Bajrang Dal activists in Ajmer defying ban and prohibitory orders. Togadia asserted that the coming Assembly polls in the Indian state of Rajasthan would be fought on the issue of tridents and attacked the ruling Congress Party for "placating" Muslims for electoral gains. He expressed satisfaction at the publicity received due to the incident.[17]
  • The Bajrang Dal has been accused of not allowing Muslims to own land in parts of Gujarat by attacking traders who sell to Muslims and by attacking Muslim homes and forcing the sale of the house or flat. This creates a ghettoisation of large cities in Gujarat, like Ahmedabad and Vadodara.[18]
  • On several occasions, acting as "Social Police" the activists of Bajrang Dal have caught un-married couples on Valentines day and forced them to apply sindoor or tie rakhis against their wishes. The activists of Bajrang Dal have often indulged in violence, invading gift shops and restaurants and threatening couples on Valentines day.[19][20][21][22]
  • The Bajrang Dal has also been involved in bombmaking accidents on 6 August 2006 in Nanded,[23] and on 24 August 2008 in Kanpur.[24]
  • In September 2008, a fresh wave of attacks directed against the Newlife Christian churches and prayer halls in Karnataka by the Bajrang Dal, as a protest against defaming Hindu gods and against religious conversion carried on by the Newlife Missionaries. Later, Mahendra Kumar, the convener of Bajrang Dal was arrested in connection with it even after he publicly announced that they are not responsible for the attacks, after the Center had strongly criticised the state Government. In addition, the National Commission for Minorities has also blamed them for the religious violence in BJP-ruled states of Karnataka and Odisha.[25] However, some police reports claim that the Bajrang Dal was not involved per se and that the attacks were carried out by splinter groups. However, testimonies of Bajrang Dal activists show exactly the opposite, as they described the attacks and openly warned of more violence.[26]
  • Starting 14 February 2011, there has been a fresh wave of violence directed at people celebrating Valentine's Day in the city of Kanpur, in the province of Uttar Pradesh. "Offenders", so called, are forced to hold their ears and do sit-ups as punishment for being caught celebrating the "Western holiday". Police have been called in to calm the sectarian violence and discrimination.[27]

Criticism

The United States Department of State's annual report on international religious freedom for 2000 and World Report (2000) by the Human Rights Watch labelled this organisation as a Hindu extremist group.[28][29] Paul R. Brass, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington, described the Bajrang Dal as Indian equivalent of Nazi Germany's Sturmabteilung.[30]

Many Christian leaders took exception to this letter saying that Hinduism is a pluralistic religion. According to them The term Hindu extremists in the letter is unfortunate because we've maintained that criminals have no religion and whatever happened in August–September, 2008, was never the act of Hindus, said Orissa Minority Front president Swarupananda Patra. Blaming Hindus doesn't make minorities happy, as they are aware of Hinduism's secular tenant which probably isn't known to the US lawmakers.[31]

Bajrang Dal has also received criticism from moderate Hindu Nationalist organisations such as the Hindu Mahasabha. Bajrang Dal has been criticised for adopting the same violent methods as the Islamic Fundamentalists in their attempt to curb the spread of Islamic terrorism, a move deemed by the Mahasabha to be counterproductive.[32] In addition, the Bharatiya Janata Party member and former prime minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee have also come out in criticism of Bajrang Dal. Vajpayee said that the Bajrang Dal "only embarrassed the BJP" and urged the Sangh Parivar to "rein them in".[33] After the Religious violence in Odisha, the Bharatiya Janata Party Prime Ministerial candidate L. K. Advani advised the Bajrang Dal to cease association with violence, concerned with the fact that it took pressure off the UPA government in Delhi[34]

Demand for ban

  • Though there were no demands for ban till recently, there is a lot of demand for ban from the ruling Congress which is accused by opposition for minority appeasement, and also from different minority groups including the government owned National Commission for Minorities. However, the ruling government has decided not to impose due to fear of lack of evidences.[35] In addition, India's National Security Advisor also suggested that a ban on Bajrang Dal is not sustainable[36]
  • In September 2008, the Indian National Congress (INC) demanded a ban on the Bajrang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) which according to the INC are involved in anti-national activities. Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said "White paper should be brought out not only against SIMI but all organisations involved in anti-national activities like Bajrang Dal and VHP".[37] Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said, "Those outfits involved in terrorist activity should be investigated, the question is why Bajrang Dal should not be banned".[38] Muslim cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahli, who is involved in the "Movement Against Terrorism", also demanded a ban on this organisation in the wake of the Kanpur blast.[39]
  • The monthly magazine Communalism Combat started by civil rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand demanded an immediate ban on the Bajrang Dal in August 2008.[40]
  • Leader of the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) Ramchandra Paswan describing the Bajrang Dal as communal organisation said, "Bajrang Dal and VHP should immediately be banned."[41]
  • The Indian National Congress, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, former prime minister H. D. Deve Gowda and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati have demanded a ban on Bajrang Dal and Sri Rama Sena. In this regard, Deve Gowda sent a letter to prime minister and accused Bajrang Dal "for perpetrating senseless violence" against minorities in Karnataka and Odisha.[42][43][44]
  • On 5 October 2008, the National Commission for Minorities has recommended a ban on the Bajrang Dal and VHP for its alleged role in the attacks on Christian institutions in Karnataka.[45] However, the ruling state government has[46] the Minority commission's recommendations and does not support this suggestion.

List of presidents

See also

References

  1. ^ Chetan Bhatt (2001). Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths. Berg Publishers. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-85973-348-6. 
  2. ^ a b Anand, Dibyesh (2007). "Anxious sexualities: Masculinity, nationalism and violence". The British Journal of Politics & International Relations 9 (2): 257–269. doi:10.1111/j.1467-856x.2007.00282.x. 
  3. ^ Deshpande, Rajeev (30 September 2008). "Bajrang Dal: The militant face of the saffron family?". The Times of India. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  4. ^ From the website of the Bajrang Dal
  5. ^ Declaration from the website of the Bajrang Dal
  6. ^ Media Watch
  7. ^ Terror:VHP plans awareness jatha,Deccan Herald
  8. ^ Bajrang Dal launches campaign,The Tribune
  9. ^ "Three get death for Akshardham attack". Times of India. 2 June 2006. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  10. ^ Cow slaughter: Bajrang Dal dubs Forum’s stand anti-Hindu,Deccan Herald
  11. ^ BAJRANG DAL Loonies at Large
  12. ^ State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat Humean Rights Watch – June 2002
  13. ^ Malegaon the road to perdition,The Hindu
  14. ^ [1] Malegaon blasts: Is it Bajrang or Lashkar?
  15. ^ Police cover up Nanded blast,NDTV.com.
  16. ^ A report on bomb blast at the house of prominent RSS activist in Nanded, Maharashtra,pucl.org
  17. ^ Togadia defies ban, distributes tridents,The Hindu
  18. ^ Organised intolerance
  19. ^ Valentines day
  20. ^ Gupta, Suchandana (15 February 2008). "On V-Day, Bajrang Dal men force couple to get 'married'". The Times of India. 
  21. ^ "Sena, Bajrang Dal act spoilers on Valentine's Day". Rediff.com. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 2012-11-26. 
  22. ^ "Bajrang Dal protests against Valentine's Day". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 15 February 2008. 
  23. ^ Security agencies pursue Bajrang Dal, Bangla links to Malegaon DNAIndia – 6 September 2006
  24. ^ Bajrang Dal plotted ‘revenge blasts’ in Kanpur: UP police Indian Express – 28 August 2008
  25. ^ Christians: The Sangh Parivar's new target The Economic Times – 20 September 2008
  26. ^ BJP, Dal talk in two voices over Karnataka NDTV – 23 September 2008
  27. ^ Bajrang Dal activists threaten couples celebrating Valentine's Day in Kanpur DailyIndia.com – 14 February 2011
  28. ^ Barbara Larkin. Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2000. p. 508. ISBN 0-7567-1229-7. 
  29. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 2000. Human Rights Watch. p. 188. ISBN 1-56432-238-6. 
  30. ^ Paul R. Brass (1997). Theft of an Idol: Text and Context in the Representation of Collective Violence. Princeton University Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-691-02650-5. 
  31. ^ "Kandhmal riots: US lawmakers seek action - The Times of India". The Times Of India. 12 October 2009. 
  32. ^ Bajarangis – Do not become Hindu Jihadis,hindutva.org
  33. ^ Rein in Parivar outfits, PM tells RSS,The Tribune
  34. ^ Bajrang deaf to BJP sermon The Telegraph, Calcutta – 3 October 2008
  35. ^ A case of political divide
  36. ^ Ban against Bajrang Dal can't be sustained: NSA
  37. ^ Cong demands white paper on Bajrang Dal, VHP
  38. ^ Congress demands ban on Bajrang Dal
  39. ^ Muslim cleric demands ban on Bajrang Dal
  40. ^ Call for immediate ban on Bajrang Dal, VHP
  41. ^ LJP demands ban on Bajrang Dal, VHP
  42. ^ Gowda, Maya demand ban on Bajrang Dal The Times of India, 22 September 2008
  43. ^ Paswan seeks ban on Bajrang Dal, VHP The Hindu, 20 September 2008
  44. ^ Congress seeks ban on VHP, Bajrang Dal Sify News, 20 September 2008
  45. ^ Ban Bajrang Dal, says national minorities panel CNN-IBN, 6 October 2008
  46. ^ criticized
  47. ^ Cabinet to discuss Bajrang, VHP ban The Telegraph

External links