Bajrang Dal Holds Illegal Arms Training Camp in Kodagu, Karnataka

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Bajrang Dal arm training

The police have not taken any action against the organisers of the event even though no prior permission was taken for it

Zafar Aafaq | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Hindu extremist outfit Bajrang Dal held an illegal arms training camp between May 5 and May 13 at Sai Shankar Educational Institute in the district’s Ponnampet area in Kodagu district of Karnataka. As per the social media posts, participants at the event were trained to use guns.

Some photos of the weekend event showed the group’s leaders distributing weapons, including firearms, among young saffron-clad men. Hindu Priests in attendance at the event performed Ayudha Puja or weapon worshipping

BJP leader Appachu Ranjan, who is a member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly from Madikeri Constituency, is said to have attended the event. Raghu Sakleshpur, a prominent Hindutva hate figure was also present on the occasion.

Visuals of the arms training surfaced on the internet evoked sharp reactions from social activists expressing concern over police allowing such an event. A local SDPI activist termed the arms training “a dangerous development to prepare Hindutva supporters for violence against minorities”.

Some reports said that the participants took out a march outside the school premises under police protection.

The police have not taken any action against the organisers of the event even though no prior permission was taken for it, informed sub-inspector Kumar who is incharge of the police Station at Ponnampet. He said no case has been filed yet claiming “we just got the news but don’t know the details of the incident.”

When asked whether the police are going to investigate the event, Kumar said: “Have to see”.

Lately, Karnataka, the state that boasts of housing global tech companies in its capital Bengaluru, has seen a sharp slide towards rightwing Hindu majortitarianism under BJP rule.

Earlier this year, the government banned hijab at schools. Muslim businesses have been targetted by rightwing groups with impunity. Now, the use of loudspeakers at mosques has also come under attack.

The arms training camps organised by Bajrang Dal have a history. In 2018, a similar event was held in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. In December 2015, a Muslim youth, Shahul Hamid, was shot dead allegedly by three Bajrang Dal men on the occasion of birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan in Kodagu. The trio had reportedly used a licenced gun to kill Hamid.

In June 2019, Maharashtra Police launched an investigation after a rights group filed a complaint that Bajrang Dal was holding arms training camps at an academy owned by BJP MLA in Bhayandar near Mumbai.

The group justifies these camps claiming that they are intended to equip the workers with the training “to protect Hindus”.

The Bajrang Dal activists frequently indulge in violence targetting Muslims through mob attacks, rioting and lynching.

(With inputs from Mohammed Irshad)

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