Since independence, many political parties, socio-cultural organisations, and allegedly extremist groups have faced bans of varying durations. While some are hardline groups driven by religious extremism, some others harbour ideologies that are perceived to be at odds with the State.
Bajrang Dal: Bajrang Dal was formed in 1984, a part of the Sangh Parivar, with the objective of undoing the impact of Mughal rule and British imperialism. Building the Ram Temple though was its primary driving force. Shortly after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the Narsimha Rao government banned Bajrang Dal, a group many of whose members had participated in the demolition. However, the ban was revoked a year later.
Since then, the group has been accused of involvement in many hate crimes against Muslim and Christian minorities, most notable of these was the alleged involvement of a group member in the murder of Graham Stains and his minor sons on Odisha in 1999. In October 2008, the National Commission for Minorities had recommended a ban on the Bajrang Dal or its alleged role in the attacks on Christian institutions in Karnataka. A report by Human Rights watch indicts the group for their alleged involvement in the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat. In June 2018, the CIA World Factbook classified the Bajrang Dal as a ‘militant religious organisation’.
Popular Front of India (PFI): This is a controversial socio-political group that has been accused of harbouring radical Islamic fundamentalist ideology. However, according to the group themselves, they are a “A Neo-Social Movement which strives for the empowerment of marginalized section of India.” The group is accused of being affiliated to terrorist groups and some members have been accused of violence against CPI (M) and RSS cadres in the state. Allegations range from kidnapping and intimidation to murder. Police raids in 2010, led to the discovery of arms and ammunition.
In 2012, the Government of Kerala banned the organisation. On August 13, 2012 the group was accused of spreading hate against people from the North East living in South India. Over 60 million SMSs were sent targeting NE people in wake of the Assam Riots, causing a mass exodus of NE people from Chennai, Hyderabad and even Pune. The PFI was also banned in Jharkhand.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS): This organisation, which is, in a sense, the ideological parent of the present regime, was founded by KB Hedgewar in 1925 in Nagpur. It is a right-wing nationalist organisation that is based on VD Savarkar’s Hindutva ideology. The RSS has been banned many times over the course of its history. It was first banned by the British during colonial rule. But the most memorable ban was imposed by the government of Independent India in wake of the assassination of MK Gandhi at the hands of Nathuram Godse in 1948. The group was also banned during the Emergency between 1975-77 and after the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992.
Today, the group exercises tremendous influence and many people in the top echelons of power in the country openly claim association or affiliation with it. Many of its members have openly spoken about building a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. RSS cadres have also been accused of involvement in ‘cow protection’ and campaigns against what it claims are religious conversions by force or inducement. In June 2018, the CIA World Factbook classified the RSS as a ‘nationalist organisation’.
Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI): This group was founded in Aligarh in 1977 and maintains that certain concepts of Islam, Shariah law and Islamic state, keystones of Quran, are antithetical to Islam. Among its various objectives, SIMI aims to counter what it perceives as the increasing moral degeneration, sexual anarchy in Indian society and the ‘insensitiveness’ of a ‘decadent’ West. There are also allegations of a secessionist agenda.
The group’s members have been accused of having links with radical Islamic terrorist groups and SIMI was banned in 2001 for two years in India, shortly after the 9/11 terror attack in the United States. The ban was extended for two more years in 2003 and the group was banned for a third time in 2006. Though the ban was lifted temporarily in 2008, it was extended again in February 2019 for a period of five years.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP): The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, is yet another member of the Sangh Parivar. It was founded in 1964 by RSS leaders MS Golwalkar and SS Apte in collaboration with the Hindu spiritual leader Chinmayananda. Today, it is one of the world’s largest and possibly richest socio-cultural organisations with the purported aim to promote, uphold and defend Hindu culture and values. It has also been accused of promoting radical Hindu Nationalism. Several members of the group have been at the forefront of the Ram Temple movement and were also involved in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992.
The VHP was banned by the Narsimha Rao government shortly afterwards, but the ban was lifted a year later. However, in January 1995, the ban was re-imposed. Though it was subsequently lifted. Over the years VHP members have been accused of involvement in hate crimes against minorities and also converting non-Hindus to Hinduism. A report by Human Rights watch indicts the group for their alleged involvement in the 2002 anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat. In June 2018, the CIA World Factbook classified the VHP as a ‘militant religious organisation’.