Images of India : Inside a Bajrang Dal ‘self defence’ training camp…

bajrangdalAlthough the activities being conducted are more in line with what you would find at an army training programme, organisers insist that this is a “self-defence” camp for youth. Conducted by the Bajrang Dal, a militant Hindu organisation that traces its origins from the days of the infamous Babri Mosque demolition movement in the temple town of Ayodhya. The 16th Century mosque was torn down by Hindu groups in 1992, prompting nationwide rioting between Hindus and Muslims in which more than 2,000 people died. A team of trainers, who supervise these camps, say that this training is essential to ward off “the enemy”. They refuse to define or name “the enemy” saying only that “anyone who suppresses Hindus is an enemy”. And it’s not just the men who are trained in “self defence”. Durga Vahini, another unit of the VHP, organises similar camps for women. Many feel that they are coercing young people towards violence, and are encouraging violence against minorities. The VHP and Bajrang Dal have denied knowledge of the training tactics used, but India’s Muslim community has questioned the government’s decision to even allow such camps to go ahead.