DELHI – The notoriously hardcore organization, Hindu Mahasabha, announced the launch its “Islam-free India” campaign on August 3 from the temple town of Varansi. Organizers expect the event will be flocked by Hindu worshipers marking their holy month of “Shraavan.”
“We are not going to tolerate Muslims in this country. We are launching our campaign to make India a Hindu nation by offering water at Varansi’s Shringar Gauri Temple,” Hindu Mahasabha president, Kamlesh Tiwari, told AboutIslam.net.
“We plan to distribute sword[s] to every Hindu during the campaign so that they can protect them[selves] from Muslims.”
Members of minority communities, particularly Muslims, say they have been at the receiving end [of intolerance] in the country after Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came to power last year.
Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is considered to be one of the holiest cities of the country according to Hindus.
Hindu Mahasabha chose August 3 for launch of the program as large a number of Hindu devotees are likely to visit the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi on this day to offer prayers, as it is the first Monday of the sacred Hindu month of “Shraavan.”
Shringar Gauri Temple is located close to Gyanvapi Masjid (mosque), a communally sensitive area where performing any religious ritual is prohibited.
The site is a bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus claim that the Gyanvapi mosque was built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb after destroying a Hindu temple.
Arun Kumar Pandey, superintendent of police in Varanasi, said that no one is allowed to perform any religious ritual at the temple.
He said the entry to Shringar Gauri is prohibited and that the administration would not grant permission to Hindu Mahasabha to hold any programs there.
Defiant Hindu Mahasabha functionaries asserted that they didn’t need anyone’s permission to hold a religious program at a Hindu temple.
The organization’s plan to kick-start its campaign from Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has also raised doubts in the minds of the community.
People believe that Hindu Mahasabha has chosen Varanasi with a definite motive in mind.
“It is really unfortunate that Hindu organizations have once again decided to conduct programs that would create fear in the minds of Muslims and foment trouble, not only in Varanasi but also the rest of the country,” Arif Masood, a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a private body working to protect Muslim personal laws and guide the general public about crucial issues related to Muslims and Islam, told AboutIslam.net.
“You cannot justify such campaigns. The government must act and stop such hate campaigns being run by Hindu fundamentalists.”
But Hindu Mahasabha wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare India a Hindu nation. At its June 22 executive meeting in Lucknow the decision was made to launch the campaign in an attempt to counter the increasing influence of Muslims across India.
Hindu Mahasabha leader Kamlesh Tiwari argues there is no justification behind the Indian government spending millions of rupees for the welfare of Muslims. He further demanded scraping of the Minorities Commission in India.
The Minorities Commission is a government organization formed to safeguard the constitutional and legal rights of the minorities, including Muslims, in India.
Vishwa Hindu Sant Mahasabha, World Hindu saint federation national President Swami Ratnadev said, “Muslim graveyards are spread over large areas and occupy land worth millions of rupees in the country.
“The government also spends public money on their maintenance. The Muslim graveyards are much larger compared to the Hindu cremation grounds. We demand the government to give smaller pieces of land to Muslims for the burial of their dead like the Hindus.”
He further said that all land occupied for graveyards should be declared Hindu land.
“We have decided to run this campaign in order to counter a similar campaign being run by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB),” added Swami Ratnadev.
However, Muslims believe that this campaign may further divide people on communal lines. They want that the government to immediately stop such campaigns as their purpose is to create hatred for one particular community.
“Hindu organizations are bent upon keeping [the] communal atmosphere of the country surcharged. Political parties should not try to derive political mileage from the situation and work for improving relationship[s] between different communities,” said Anam Khan, a Muslim who lives in Varanasi.
A majority of Muslims feel that radical Hindu groups would keep on running such campaigns and would ensure that ordinary citizens of the country do not live in peace.