VHP leader promises free ‘licenses’ swords, knives and sticks after ‘training’

Swords and blades over nine inches in length and which are not kitchen appliances require a licence under the Arms Act.

Photo Credit: Abhisek SahaImage courtesy: Abhisek Saha / The Hindu

New Delhi: An office bearer of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Varanasi recently announced that along with kung fu training, “licensed” swords, knives and sticks will be distributed for free, The Hindu has reported. 

According to the newspaper report, this VHP training is being imparted at Varanasi’s Bal Upasana Kendra, near Lohiyanagar, in Sarnath area. 

In a Facebook post, which has since been deleted, Sanjay Hindu Sinha, who claims to be the VHP’s Kashi Mahanagar joint-general secretary, had reportedly said:

“Free of cost training of lathi (sticks) for 15-days, knives for one month, swords for one month and kung fu for three months, after which licence of swords with sticks and knives will be given for free. Training place is Bal Upasana Kendra located in Lohia Nagar, Ashapur. Limited seats, register today, membership fee, Rs 100.” 

According to another newspaper, Dainik Bhaskarthe post was shared on Saturday, December 3. It was shared multiple times on social media. According to Hindu, the Varanasi police has stated that is likely to initiate an inquiry into the matter. 

VHP’s Kashi metropolitan president Kanhaiya Singh told Dainik Bhaskar that Sinha made this announcement in his personal capacity, and the organisation or any workers have nothing to do with it. 

Swords and blades over nine inches in length and which are not kitchen appliances require a licence under the Arms Act as Sabrangindia has repeatedly pointed out. Under the Arms Act, carrying weapons without a licence is punishable with a jail term and a fine. 

Under Rule 8 of the Arms Act Rules, 2016, a person holding a licence for firearms or any other arms, which includes swords and blades with sharp edges, is barred from “resorting to the brandishing of firearms in a public place nor shall he carry or discharge a firearm in a built-up area or any public place on the occasion of marriage, public assembly, fair, procession or any public event.” 

Reuters had reported how, since 2016, arms trainins in Varanasi have been regularly taking place.

Members of Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of hardline Vishwa Hindu Parishad, show their self-defense skills with firearms at the concluding ceremony of a weeklong women’s training camp on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, May 21, 2016. 

Several organisations affiliated to the Hindutva worldview, such as the Durga Vahini, VHP, and the Bajrang Dal are well known to offer arms training to their volunteers. In May 2022,   Aryancode Police of Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram registered a case against 200 women from Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s women’s wing, Durga Vahini for marching with weapons including swords in Keezharoor in Kerala. 

“We have registered a case against 200 persons, but not named anyone. The case was registered with regard to disturbing public tranquillity, under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 144 (joining unlawful assembly with weapon), 147 (rioting), 149 (if an offence be committed by any member of an unlawful assembly, every other member of such assembly shall be guilty of the offence) and 153 (provoking with intent to cause riot) of the Indian Penal Code. Besides, they were also booked under Section 25 of the Arms Act,” a police officer had then told The Indian Express. 

For instance, Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the VHP, had in 2018 organised a camp in Agra where women were trained how to fire a rifle and other weapons in the name of self-defence. 

The organisation, VHP, known for its aggressive stance on intra-community issues, had justified the arms training as ‘physical exercise’, Financial Express had reported. In May this year, at least 200 persons were booked for brandishing swords during a Durga Vahini rally in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram. 

Five years back, in 2017, the Congress had alleged that arms training was being provided to the Bajrang Dal and VHP volunteers in Assam to “terrorise”, Hindustan Times had reported. It had demanded action against those “practising this without a valid licence”. 

West Bengal Mamata Banerjee had also hit out at the VHP for openly giving arms to its cadres, saying that right-wing groups had tried to do the same in Coochbehar district, but the state government didn’t allow such exercises. 

In 2019, around 250 VHP functionaries, including the organisation’s local president, were booked for allegedly brandishing air guns and swords during a procession in Pune’s Pimpri Chinchwad area.


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