With the nine-day Navratri festival round the corner in Gujarat, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has issued a diktat not to allow Muslims at garba events and sought an apology and arrest of Mehdi Hasan Shah Baba, who had offered skullcap to Narendra Modi, for equating Hindus attending Navratri events allegedly with demons (rakshas). However, baba has refused to revert on his words or seek an apology.
The Hindu outfit had threatened to take direct action of arresting him and handing over to the police. It has also issued strict instructions to garba organisers not to allow Muslims at their venues in the state during Navratri. Further, it will conduct “combing nights” to weed out Muslims from garba venues.
At a press briefing here on Sunday at the VHP office in Paldi, VHP state general secretary Ranchhod Bharvad also told the reporters that the VHP-Bajrang Dal (BD) will compel the Baba to offer apology. Bharvad said people like the Baba were actually demons, not Hindus. He said presence of Muslims at garba venues would not be allowed and if identified action would be taken against them.
Bharvad said that if Muslims boys wanted to join garba events, they must first convert to Hinduism as entry to Muslims would be denied strictly. The VHP would give all support to those wanting to convert to Hinduism, he said. He also criticised authorities that allowed loud speakers on other occasions but banned it around Navratri only. “Court ban on loud speakers during Navratri is not acceptable to us because Navratri being a matter of faith it does not come under purview of law,” Bharvad said. Bharvad said the VHP would spread awareness about not allowing Muslims at garba events all over the state and oppose Muslims’ entry in a democratic manner.
Meanwhile, Baba said, “I will stand by what I have said and I am not going to tender any apology. Let them get met arrested; I will not engage any lawyer nor will I seek bail in case they get me arrested,” he said. According to him, the police have refused to file FIR against him.