For their own good, opposition ruled states must ban all hindutva outfits and rehabilitate their members

Video of police lathi charging Bajrang Dal members in Indore

Last month, attacking the Indian National Congress’s (INC) promise during Karnataka Assembly elections to ban Bajrang Dal, an incensed Prime Minister Modi invoked the ‘Jai Bajrang Bali’ slogan in defence of an outfit that has visibly indulged in wide-spread murder and mayhem in the country for close to four decades.

On the other hand, one month later, the BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh police lathi-charged and arrested 11 members of the same outfit in Indore. They staged a sudden sit-in, protesting so called false cases filed against its members in the past, in the process disturbing traffic movement and spiting policemen who tried to peacefully evict them before using force.

These two opposite actions by BJP leadership seem contradictory because both entities come from the same sangh family, but it is not. Rather, it is an indication of things to come from the many active and violent sangh parivar outfits.

Basically, Bajrang Dal comprises of rowdies, criminals and history-sheeters available for hire. They are also indoctrinated to hate the minorities, pro-democracy stalwarts of the past and the Constitution of India by Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS) cadres active among them.

Functionally, Bajrang Dal members are the principal rabble rousers for the sangh parivar. The outfit’s trail of blood starts from LK Advani’s Rath Yatra and includes most communal riots and incidents that led to arson, murder and mayhem to date, including the Godhra genocide, Kandhamal anti-Christian violence and the Delhi riots.

Additionally, the outfit also serves as muscle power and foot-soldiers for BJP politicians, for electioneering purposes, for settling petty local disputes (for a fee), for creating political disturbances and for malicious demonstrations, while the umbilical chord between the BJP and such outfits is confirmed by the MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra’s response to the arrest of 11 of its members in Indore.

“We have also taken cognizance of the police action against the protesters and decided to send an Additional Director General of Police (ADGP)-level officer to probe all issues related to it. We have also ordered that the in-charge of the police station concerned be line-attached (removed from field duty),” he said.

At the same time, Bajrang Dal members double up as members of several sangh parivar groups pursuing the same communal and ideological agenda. These are extra-constitutional entities created and patronized by the BJP-RSS for their own end, but in the process they have taken on a life of their own. They have become criminal gangs indulging in their own criminal activities, running protection rackets and extorting businessmen. In Indore, they flexed their muscles against the very government that patronizes them, indicating the depth of their arrogance and spite for any rule of law and the threat they represent to the nation.

Commendably, because of the outfit’s antecedents, the Karnataka government said that it will ban Bajrang Dal, but this much needed ban on Bajrang Dal or any single one of its sister violent outfits, will not end their violent and criminal ways, ideological or otherwise. They will either reappear as overlapping members of other sangh organizations or alternatively continue with crime as a career. These are two different problems and need to be tackled as such. All the outfits need to be banned, their members prosecuted for past crimes, with their rehabilitation as an eventual goal.

Opposition ruled states have an important role to play in this. Law and order are a state subject, they do not need Centre’s approval on such matters. They can ban them at the state level. However, other than INC Karnataka, the gusto to tackle the problem is not seen in other opposition ruled states. These states may not be acting in order to prevent losing their Hindu vote bank, assuming these outfits have the support of the larger Hindu population, but this is not true.

During the last General elections, only 37 % voted for BJP while 67% did not, indicating that a majority of Hindus neither subscribe to its ideology and politics nor do they approve of any of the violent groups aligned with it. Only, they have kept silent about it all, with the silence emboldening the outfits and now Hindus too are increasingly facing the consequences.

Directly, the consequences for Hindus come in the form of paying ‘hafta’ to such outfits under threat to life, and indirectly, the economic and social fallout of the political, communal violence and disturbances indulged in by these groups.

While opposition ruled states must do what the Constitution permits them to in order to curtail these groups at the state level, for their own long-term welfare, the right-thinking yet unvocal Hindu community needs to speak out against them and distance themselves from the outfits even if they present a religious facade. Religion is only a tool that the regressive sangh parivar uses to deceive the Hindu population in pursuit of an illusionary India of their making.

 Oliver D’Souza is a senior journalist/editor and an award winning author

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