After Bajrang Dal, UP police take a close look at Durga Vahini’s ‘self-defence’ training camps

Weapons training at an earlier Durga Vahini camp. Photo credit:

Last week it was the Bajrang Dal, the militant men’s wing of the VHP that was in the news for holding weapons training camps for its cadre in UP. It now turns out that the UP police are taking a close look at parallel training camps being held for members of the VHP’s women’s wing, Durga Vahini.

The Indian Express has reported that on Sunday a police team made a surprise visit to a Durga Vahini training camp being held at the Bharti Siksha Mandir school in Varanasi and later reported that the women were only being taught judo. “We did not find any firearm… not even airguns and lathis,” the Sigra police station officer Anupam Srivastava told the media.

Curiously, while the police claimed to have found nothing, VHP office bearers spoke in different voices. VHP’s Kashi Prant Organisation Secretary Diwakar said 125 volunteers, including nine members of Matra Shakti, are being trained at the camp. “Senior workers of Durga Vahini are training them… Such training is important for the security of women,” he said.

Excerpt from the film 'The World Before Her' on the Durga Vahini by Nisha Pahuja

However, VHP joint secretary for Kashi region, Anand Singh, sang a different tune: “Airguns are being used to train the volunteers at the camp. Temporary structures have been erected and volunteers are using airguns to target these. Whatever they have learned, the volunteers will display the same on Monday before senior leaders in Varanasi.”

The Ayodhya convenor of Bajrang Dal was arrested on May 26 for holding a weapons training programme and charged under section 153(A) of the Indian Penal Code (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony).

While the VHP leaders have sought to explain away these camps as annual programmes that are no different from similar camps held by all kinds of civil society organisations, the BJP president Amit Shah sought to distance his party by falsely claiming that the Bajrang Dal has nothing to do with the BJP.

For earlier reports on the use of such camps for weapons training and the role of the Bajrang Dal militants in communal violence see below:

Sangh’s Sinister Drive to Militarise ‘Hindu’ Society ahead of 2017 UP Polls.

Bajrang Dal convenor arrested for arms training camp, spreading communal hatred in Ayodhya.

If Bajrang Dal is not BJP, what of the RSS, Mr Shah?



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