Sri Ram Sena

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The Sri Ram Sena (literally, "The Army of Lord Rama"), or Sri Ram Sene, is a right-wing Hindu group founded in the late 1960s by Kalki Maharaj. It has received media attention for its acts of moral policing, including the 2009 Mangalore pub attack, where its members attacked women for going to a pub.

Formation[edit]

The Sri Ram Sena was founded in the late 1960s by Kalki Maharaj, the right hand man of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray, and also a former member of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad. He was a devotee of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna originally from Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh. He left to live in the Himalayas in Badrinath and kept a very low profile. After many years, he joined Shiv Sena and became close to Thackeray, who appointed him as a Shiv Sena leader in North India.

Notable activities[edit]

Protest against M F Hussain[edit]

On 24 August 2008, the Sri Ram Sena protested against an Exhibition of M F Hussain's paintings in Delhi, claiming that the art was 'indecent' and offensive to Hindu culture, despite the fact that nudity in the depiction of gods and goddesses has been common for millennia.[1] The Sena claimed that Hussain had painted Hindu gods in a derogatory manner, including a nude representation of Bharat Mata (Mother India). The exhibition had been organized by SAHMAT, an NGO, to protest against the exclusion of Husain's works from the concurrent India Art Summit.

2009 Mangalore pub attack[edit]

The members of the Sena attacked women in a pub in Mangalore, on 24 January 2009.[2][3][4] A group of 40 activists of the Sena barged into the pub "Amnesia — The Lounge" and beat up a group of young women and men, claiming the women were violating traditional Indian values. Two of the women were hospitalized. The video of the incident has become one of the most watched clips on YouTube, though how the TV crew happened to be ready at the 'unannounced' attack is not known.[5][1] Commenting on the incident, founder Pramod Muthalik said "Whoever has done this has done a good job. Girls going to pubs is not acceptable. So, whatever the Sena members did was right. You are highlighting this small incident to malign the BJP government in the state." [1]

Valentine's Day incident[edit]

In January 2009, Muthalik announced a plan to target couples found dating on 14 February, Valentine's Day. He said "Our activists will go around with a priest, a turmeric stub and a mangalsutra on 14 February. If we come across couples being together in public and expressing their love, we will take them to the nearest temple and conduct their marriage."[6] On 9 February 2008, P. Chidambaram the Indian Minister of Home Affairs, said, "Sri Ram Sena is a threat to the country. The Centre is watching its activities with great concern".[7]

Muthalik's remarks aroused widespread criticism and protests like the Pink Chaddi Campaign. As a precaution, Muthalik and 140 others of the Sri Ram Sena were held in preventive custody on Valentine’s Eve and released a few days later.[8]

To distance themselves from the Sri Ram Sena, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh called for stringent action against the group and said that they would have no objections should the government ban them.[9]

Other[edit]

The group is mentioned in the charge sheet filed by the Maharashtra Police following the 2006 Malegaon blasts. In the transcript of a conversation, the prime accused, Prasad Shrikant Purohit, is heard praising the Shri Ram Sena and calling Pramod Muthalik its leader.[10][1] In an interview given to a website[which?], Muthalik staunchly defended Pragya Singh Thakur, another of the accused, saying she was innocent. An investigation found that neither the Sri Ram Sena nor Muthalik were involved in the blasts.[1] In an interview with Rediff.com, Muthalik said, "Look at the Hubli case where so many terrorists were arrested. These arrests helped in cracking a nation-wide nexus of the Students Islamic Movement of India. It was our boys who gave information about these terrorists and on the basis of our information the police nabbed these anti-national elements."[11]

On 27 October 2008, activists of the Sri Ram Sena ransacked the central office of the Samajwadi Party in New Delhi, in retaliation for defamatory comments alleged to have been made by the Samajwadi leadership against slain Delhi Police Inspector M C Sharma. Taking responsibility for the attack, the Sri Ram Sena's national general secretary Binay Kumar Singh told the Press Trust of India that he and his supporters had entered the premises of the Samajwadi Party office and damaged some vehicles parked inside, as well as furniture and hoardings.[12]

On 12 October 2011 a few Sri Ram Sena activists allegedly assaulted senior lawyer and social activist Prashant Bhushan in his Supreme Court chamber.[13] The Sena leadership denied any involvement. Police determined that the attackers were not from Muthalik's Sri Ram Sena.[13]

In January 2012, seven people[14] were arrested in Bijapur, Karnataka, for raising Pakistan's national flag on a government building. They were charged with trying to create tension in the town, which has a sizeable Muslim population.[14] According to the police, they were members of Sri Ram Sena,[15] though the organization denied it.[14]

The organisation was exposed in a report, which showed its "rent a riot" tactics where it took money to organise attacks on innocent persons and institutions; this was done by the Tehelka magazine and in 2011, it won the International Press Institute (IPI)-India award for excellence in journalism for this report.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e What is Sri Ram Sena?, Mangalore: NDTV Convergence Limited, January 26, 2009 [dead link]
  2. ^ "Mangalore pub attack: 17 held, Ram Sena unapologetic". Indiatimes.com. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  3. ^ "Mangalore pub row: Sri Ram Sene men get bail". ibnlive.com. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  4. ^ "Mangalore pub attack". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2 February 2009. Retrieved 3 February 2009. 
  5. ^ "Young India Vents Anger Over Mangalore Incident on Internet". 
  6. ^ "We'll not spare dating couples on Valentine's Day: Muthalik". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 6 February 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sri Ram Sene is a threat to the country: Chidambaram". The Times Of India (Kollam, Kerala). 9 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Police crackdown: Muthalik, 140 others held ahead of Valentine's Day". The Times Of India. 14 February 2009. 
  9. ^ publisher = The Daily Pioneer "Ban Sri Ram Sena: RSS". 
  10. ^ "Muthalik in judicial custody, ATS to probe Malegaon link". The Times of India. Retrieved 3 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Nanjappa, Vicky (November 10, 2008), 'We are training youth to fight terror' (Interview), Rediff.com 
  12. ^ "Sri Ram Sene activists attack SP office in Delhi". The Indian Express (New Delhi). 27 October 2008. 
  13. ^ a b Advani, Smriti (13 October 2011), "Sri Ram Sena behind my assault: Prashant Bhushan", IBN Live (New Delhi: CNN) 
  14. ^ a b c Pradeepkumar Kadkol (11 January 2012). "Pakistani flag hoisting was a Hindutva plot to foment strife, police say". The Hindu (Chennai, India). Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Habib Beary (5 January 2012). "Hindu group 'flew Pakistan flag to create tension'". BBC News. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "IPI India journalism award to Tehelka, The Week". Zee News. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2013. 

External links[edit]