Durga Vahini

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The Durga Vahini (Carrier of Durga) is the women's wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). It was established in 1991 and its founding chairperson is Sadhvi Rithambara. The Vishva Hindu Parishad states the purpose of the Durga Vahini is to encourage more women to participate in prayer meetings and in cultural activities. Kalpana Vyash, a senior leader of the organization, said that the Durga Vahini members dedicate themselves "to physical, mental and knowledge development".[1] The aim of the organization is to establish Hindu solidarity by helping Hindu families during the time of hardship and by providing social services.[2] According to Vyash, the total membership of the group is 8,000 as of 2002, and 1,000 members are from Ahmedabad.[1]

Controversies[edit]

  • The Durga Vahini is often considered to be the female face of the hardliner Bajrang Dal[1] and have been accused of actively contributing to instigating violence against religious minorities.[3] The organization is described as a militant outfit,[4] right-wing religious fundamentalist group[5] and a proto-fascistic young women's wing.[6]
  • The Durga Vahini aggressively recruits[5] young women from low-income earning and lower caste families. Members learn karate and lathi, and receive ideological education. The organization especially recruits young girls for carrying risky tasks of militant activism in which much physical strength is required, for example confronting Muslim people who they view as enemy[4] and to fight on the front lines in places like Ayodhya.[7]
  • In the Bijnor riot in 1990, activists belonging to the Durga Vahini organized a procession of Hindu men through the Muslim quarters of Bijor shouting provocative slogans which started violence.[8]
  • On 16 March 2002, Durga Vahini activists wielding tridents and sporting saffron headbands ransacked the Orissa Assembly along with VHP and Bajrang Dal members.[9]
  • The Durga Vahini participated in the 2002 Gujarat violence.[10] Regarding the Durga Vahini's role in the riots, VHP spokesman Kaushikbahi Mehta said, "We in the VHP had nothing to do with the violence except to take care of widows and victims of the Godhra mayhem. So was the case with the Durga Vahini". But many people claimed that white-churidar clad girls were involved in the violence. A senior police official said, "They were found providing healing touch to the male activists, information back-up and if the ethnic cleansing theory is true, I have a feeling they played a significant role in intelligence network as well. While it will be very difficult to prove their direct involvement, women Sanghis had definitely scrutinised voters’ list or the traders’ licence papers to screen the minorities with an innocuous intention".[1]
  • Six members of the Durga Vahini were arrested in Gwalior in March 2004 for blackening the face of Neetu Sapra, director of the play Kal Aaj Aur Kal. The Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal claimed the play depicted Rama, Sita, Laxman and Hanuman in "indecent" way. The activists also damaged the furnitures in Sapra's home.[11]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Women 'Ram Bhakt' hog limelight". The Tribune. 2002-04-11. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  2. ^ Patricia Jeffery, Amrita Basu (1997). Appropriating Gender: Women's Activism and Politicized Religion in South Asia. Routledge. pp. p168. ISBN 0-415-91866-9. 
  3. ^ Bob Pease, Keith Pringle (2001). A Man's World?: Changing Men's Practices in a Globalized World. Zed Books. pp. p226. ISBN 1-85649-912-X. 
  4. ^ a b Fiona Wilson, Bodil Folke Frederiksen (1995). Ethnicity, Gender, and the Subversion of Nationalism. Routledge. pp. p91. ISBN 0-7146-4155-3. 
  5. ^ a b Joanna Kerr, Alison Symington (2005). The Future of Women's Rights. Zed Books. pp. p81. ISBN 1-84277-459-X. 
  6. ^ Chetan Bhatt (1997). Liberation and Purity. Routledge. pp. p168. ISBN 1-85728-424-0. 
  7. ^ Feminist Review: Issue 49. Routledge. 1995. pp. p13. ISBN 0-415-12375-5. 
  8. ^ David E. Ludden (1996). Contesting the Nation: Religion, Community, and the Politics of Democracy in India. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. p77. ISBN 0-8122-1585-0. 
  9. ^ S. Anand (2008-01-19). "Next Stop Orissa". Tehelka. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 
  10. ^ Anjum Niaz (2002-09-01). "'Stop funding fascist Hindus!'". Dawn. Retrieved 2008-06-29. [dead link]
  11. ^ "'Durga Vahini' activists held". The Hindu. 2004-05-15. Retrieved 2008-06-29. 

External links[edit]