Arms training and hate speech among youth of Assam

As videos of an arms training camp by Bajrang Dal in Darrang emerge, what are the penal implications attracted by such camps?

In Assam, recently an arms training camp was conducted by the Rastriya Bajrang Dal in Assam, prompting demands for a thorough investigation and legal action against the organisers by opposition leaders. A video has emerged on the internet in which young boys are seen practicing shooting as cries of Vande Mataram and Jai Shree Ram echo.

The camp allegedly took place at the Mohorshi Vidyamandir campus in Darrang District, where the young individuals received training in handling firearms, martial arts, survival skills, and quick thinking. According to one the Bajrang Dal members featured in the video, about 400 people were given training at the event.

The incident came to light after the video from the camp went viral, causing an uproar among political parties and citizens alike. Congress and CPI (M) leaders have voiced their concerns stating that the camp’s intention was to create a divide among people from different communities, religions, and linguistic affiliations.

Congress party leader, Debabrata Saikia, in a letter addressed to Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, urged for swift action against the camp’s organisers and a thorough inquiry into the role of the district administration, questioning their awareness and even possible involvement in permitting such an event.

In response to the growing outrage, Assam Police has registered a case and instructed the Darrang Police Station to investigate into the matter and take appropriate legal action. Assam DGP GP Singh assured the public on Twitter that the matter would be handled with due diligence.

The CPI (M) has also demanded a prompt inquiry into how the Bajrang Dal members were able to freely use firearms during the camp. The party expressed serious concerns, considering it a potential conspiracy to incite communal tensions in the state. CPI(M) state secretary Suprakash Talukdar stated that such incidents are a significant threat to the peace and harmony in the state and must be dealt with urgently.

In another instance communal in nature, in Assam’s Mangaldoi a far right leader was captured on video giving a highly inciteful speech against Muslims to young men at a Bajrang Dal training camp in the state.

Please embed tweet:

“We don’t want ‘Kerala Files or Kashmir Files’, we only want ‘Gujarat Files,” seemingly alleging the 2002 Gujarat riots, the far right leader gave an incendiary speech on Love Jihad, arguing for a fictitious ‘Salma’ who wants talaq (divorce) and doesn’t wish to give birth to ‘Jihadis’. “‘This is why my fellow Bajrangis,” he continued, “we must protect our daughters as well and we also have to simultaneously put Sindoor on Salma.”

Threating sexual violence against Muslim women, he continued his speech arguing “How can we be friends with those who have sold our women in Meena Bazaar? To protect Sanatana Dharam, we must pick up our swords and expel Islam from this nation.” He said to the crowd of youth sitting listening to him at the camp in Mangaldoi, Assam.

What are the penal implications attracted by weapon distribution? 

Bajrang Dal, an extremist Hindutva fringe organisation, has been organising camps and mobilising people (read exclusively Hindu youth) by providing them weapons and tridents. In addition to distribution of tridents amongst Hindu men, hate speeches are delivered exhorting Hindus to take up arms against those (read minorities) who pose a threat to the Hindu “culture” and “religion”.

Such expression of targeted and extreme hate with a clear communal objective to establish religious hegemony upon a community that is already a minority in numbers in the country, is deplorable and a violation of the following sections of the Arms Act and the Indian Penal Code:

Arms Act, 1959

Section 2 (1) (c) of the Arms Act defines “arms” as:

Articles of any description designed or adapted as weapons for offences, or defence, and includes firearms, sharp-edged and other deadly weapons, and parts of, and machinery for manufacturing arms, but does not include articles designed solely for domestic or agricultural uses such as a lathi or an ordinary walking stick and weapons incapable of being used otherwise than as toys or of being converted into serviceable weapons.”

When it comes to sharp object that may be used as weapons, according to Schedule 1 – Rule (V) that deals with arms other than firearms:

Sharp-edged and deadly weapons, namely-Swords (including sword-sticks), daggers, bayonets, spears (including lances and javelins); battle-axes, knives (including kripans and khukries) and other such weapons with blades longer than 9″ or wider than 2″ other than those designed for domestic, agricultural, scientific or industrial purposes, steel batton; “Zipo” and other such weapons, called “life preservers”, machinery for making arms, other than category II, and any other arms which the Central Government may notify under section 4.”

Under section 5 of the Arms Act, it is prohibited to offer arms for sale, unless he holds a license and the punishment for the same is imprisonment of up to 7 years. Under section 20, an police officer or any other public servant or any person employed or working upon a railway, aircraft, vessel, vehicle can arrest without warrant any person found carrying or conveying any arms under suspicious circumstance. Under section 22, the District Magistrate is empowered to issue orders for search and seizure if he/she has reason to believe that any person residing within the local limits as in his possession any arms or ammunition for any unlawful purpose or such person cannot be left in the possession of any arms or ammunition without danger to the public peace or safety.

Under section 25(3) whoever sells or transfers arms without informing the district magistrate or the police officer in charge of the nearest police station shall be punishable with imprisonment up to 6 months.

It also amounts to violations under the Indian Penal Code under the following sections:

122- Collecting arms, etc., with intention of waging war against the Government of India

153AA- Punishment for knowingly carrying arms in any procession or organising, or holding or taking part in any mass drill or mass training with arms.

120A- Definition of criminal conspiracy

121- Waging, or attempting to wage war, or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India

141- Unlawful assembly

144- Joining unlawful assembly armed with deadly weapon

149- Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object

153- Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot—if rioting be committed; if not committed

153A-Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth,

residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony

153B- Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration

295A- Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs

298- Uttering words, etc., with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings

503- Criminal intimidation

504- Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace

505 2[(1)] – Statements conducing to public mischief

505 7[(2)- Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes

The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) also enumerates the powers of the District Magistrate in such instances:

‘144A. Power to prohibit carrying arms in procession or mass drill or mass training with arms.—(1) The District Magistrate may, whenever he considers it necessary so to do for the preservation of public peace or public safety or for the maintenance of public order, by public

notice or by order, prohibit in any area within the local limits of his jurisdiction, the carrying of arms in any procession or the organising or holding of, or taking part in, any mass drill or mass training with arms in any public place.

There are also powers to disperse unlawful assemblies (sec 129). 

However the laxity of the authorities in acting on the laws as they exist has not just contributed to the majoritarian militarisation of society but created a social atmosphere that ius intimidatory and threatening to India’s minorities.


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