Unchecked by the state, the continued activities of outfits who are the blatant votaries of Hindutva threaten the militarisation of civil society
Over the past two years, major national dailies have frequently reported, with photographs, brazen at tempts by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal (BD) to form private Hindu armies. Arms training camps have been organised by them in different parts of the country, where young men and women are trained in the use of guns as well as trishuls, sword and other martial arts.
Under the Indian Constitution, private militias arming themselves represent a threat to law and order and the peace and tranquility that the State is bound to preserve.
The Arms Act, 1959 expressly prohibits the possession of arms by private parties without license. The only exception made is for security agencies. The possession of a license before a firearm is owned is a legal requirement. Such licenses are given or granted only if there is reasonable apprehension of aggression.
The Bombay Police Act is similarly stringent on the question of possession of arms by citizens. The police are empowered to demand production of a license (section 19 of the Arms Act), arrest persons conveying arms etc under suspicious circumstances (section 20), confiscation of arms etc on possession of unlicensed arms (section 20).
In the section on fundamental rights, the Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression, faith, belief and worship (Article 25) and equality before the law (Article 14). Taken together, these articles of the Indian Constitution guarantee the Indian State’s secular and democratic nature.
By their numerous statements and actions, the VHP, Bajrang Dal, RSS and the Shiv Sena are guilty of violating the Indian Constitution, the Arms Act and the Indian Penal Code. Are these criminal antecedents not ground enough to impel the Indian state into putting an immediate stop to these blatantly illegal and provocative camps, seizing the illegally held arms, and if necessary, arresting the chief agent provocateurs — the leaders of the Bajrang Dal, VHP and the Shiv Sena?
By their statements and actions, the criminal antecedents of the VHP, Bajrang Dal, RSS and the Shiv Sena indict them for being violators of both the Indian Constitution, the Arms Act and the Indian Penal Code. Are these criminal antecedents and their defiance of the Arms Act not ground enough to impel the Indian state to put an immediate stop to these blatantly illegal and provocative camps, seize the arms that they have stored and if necessary, arrest the chief agent provocateurs, the leaders of the SS, BD and VHP?
So far, only the CPI(M) and the Congress have demanded a curb on these activities. Last year, through an ordinance enacted on January 21, 2000, the Left Front government in Kerala had imposed strict restrictions on the kind of martial training imparted to shakha goers at RSS shakhas all over the country. The ordinance had made compulsory any organisation that wants to give martial arts training, the acquisition of a license. It also empowers police to inspect such training centres. (CC February 2000).
Archived from Communalism Combat, July 2001 Year 8 No. 70, Campaign 1