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Bajrang Dal’s biggest recruitment drive in Gujarat in 20 yrs brings 2,600 new recruits

Several joinees claimed that they were motivated to join the Bajrang Dal after the murder of 30-year-old Kishan Bharwad, a resident of Dhandhuka in Ahmedabad, who was shot dead by two assailants on January 25 this year.

Written by Vaibhav Jha | Himmatnagar, Sabarkantha |
Updated: March 14, 2022 12:40:52 am
Bajrang Dal recruits take oath at the 'Trishul Diksha' ceremony in Himmatnagar on Sunday. (Nirmal Harindran)

With eight months to go before the Gujarat Vidhansabha elections, the Bajrang Dal, a frontal organisation of the right wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), conducted its biggest recruitment drive in Gujarat in the past 20 years where around 2,600 men aged between 15 to 35 years joined the organisation on Sunday.

The recruits took “Trishula Diksha” at a ceremony organised in Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha on Sunday.

The ceremony was organised at Swaminarayan temple run by Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan (BAPS) at Kanknol in Sabarkantha where the 2600 youth who joined Bajrang Dal by taking an oath with a Trishul shaped knife, to protect the “Hindu rashtra, their religion and culture from foreign forces”. All new recruits hailed from Himmatnagar town and surrounding villages.

As per VHP officials, this is the biggest recruitment drive since the 2000 for Bajrang Dal in Gujarat.

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However, when asked about whether the recruitment is being done as a mobilising effort for the upcoming elections, Jwalit Mehta, president of North Gujarat Bajrang Dal claimed, “Our organisation has no connection with the Bharatiya Janata Party and we are not dependent on their idea of Hindutva. The Bajrang Dal has its own linear ideology and we will not compromise on that. If the BJP fails to stand up for Hindutva then we shall see.”

Among the several joinees who spoke to the The Indian Express at the ceremony, many of them claimed that they were motivated to join the Bajrang Dal after the murder of 30-year-old Kishan Bharwad, a resident of Dhandhuka in Ahmedabad, who was shot dead by two assailants on January 25 this year allegedly due to a blasphemous content posted by him on social media.

The Gujarat Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) had then taken over the investigation of murder and arrested eight accused including two clerics from Delhi and Ahmedabad.

After Bharwad’s murder, several protest demonstrations by VHP and other right wing groups were organised in different Gujarat cities which resulted in clashes between communities in Chhota Udepur and Kheda and a police lathicharge in Rajkot.

Later, the Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Bhatia had appealed for peace asking for people to not pay heed to social media based rumours.

“I run a mobile store in Himmatnagar and I have not been part of any social or political organisation before. After I read news about the murder of Kishan Bharwad and the racket of forceful conversion where common Hindus were being harrassed, I made up my mind to join the Bajrang Dal,” said 35-year-old Mukesh Khatri.

“Not just Kishan Bharwad, Hindu activists such as Rinku Sharma and Harsh have also been brutally killed in the recent past. After the murder of Bharwad, several young students approached me saying that they wish to join the Bajrang Dal because they wanted to protect and serve just like Kishan,” said Raju Malviya (31), district president, Bajrang Dal, Sabarkantha.

“My father is part of VHP and I wanted to join Bajrang Dal to save my country from foreign forces. I saw on TV about the murder of Kishan and I knew my goal,” said a 16-year-old new joinee from Himmatnagar.

The initiation ceremony of the joinees was preceded by fiery speeches made by members of the VHP on stage at the venue where a speaker claimed that “one must not claim themselves to be a member of Bajrang Dal if their area’s police inspector doesn’t know their name.”

However, Hitendrasinh Rajput, the deputy chief of prachar prasar of VHP said, “Bajrang Dal members are usually associated with notoriety but this year, we have doctors, engineers and advocates joining us.”

22-year-old Bhautik Bhatt, a BBA student of Vidyamandir College in Himmatnagar claimed, “The feeling of Hindutva is arising in this country. People are realising that it can serve as an umbrella for all Hindu communities irrespective of caste divides. I have joined Bajrang Dal to serve my dharma.”

When asked whether the joinees would be able to make time for the organisation’s activities once they land jobs or join businesses, 23-year-old Akash Agarwal, a software engineer with TCS at Himmatnagar, said, “I have been associated with ABVP in the past and we have fought against forced conversion of tribals in Odisha. I have recently joined the company but I will manage to make time for the party’s activities as well.”

Bajrang Dal recruits took out a rally in the afternoon with Trishul knives and swords in Himmatnagar town and passed by sensitive zones under the watch of the local police.

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First published on: 13-03-2022 at 09:00:46 pm

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