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Arms training at Karnataka school draws flak, Bajrang Dal say only airguns used

Police and educational officials say permission was neither sought nor given even as Congress leaders such as Siddaramaiah criticise the camp held in communally sensitive Kodagu district on May 5-11.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 17, 2022 5:48:25 am
At its Shaurya Prashikshana Varga organised in communally sensitive Kodagu district, the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s youth wing taught its cadres shooting and also gave them trishuls.

After photographs of Bajrang Dal activists undergoing shooting training in Karnataka went viral on social media, police said they were collecting information about the camp.

At its Shaurya Prashikshana Varga organised in communally sensitive Kodagu district, the Vishva Hindu Parishad’s youth wing taught its cadres shooting and also gave them trishuls.

According to police sources, the camp was held from May 5 to 11 at the Sai Shankar Educational Institute in Ponnampet in the district. The 116 participants in the camp were not students of the school but youths from several parts of the state, said the sources.

Superintendent of police MA Aiyappa said, “The Bajrang Dal and the Vishva Hindu Parishad organise such camps every year. This year also they organised and no permission was sought. We got information about the incident from social media. No complaint has been filed. According to the Arms Act, you do not need a licence to use an airgun. We are probing the matter.”

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According to police sources, the camp was held from May 5 to 11 at the Sai Shankar Educational Institute in Ponnampet in the district. The 116 participants in the camp were not students of the school but youths from several parts of the state, said the sources.

Vedhamurthy, deputy director of public instruction in the district, said, “Neither they approached us for permission, nor we gave them any. Usually workshops are held in schools and colleges, but not to such an extent as to teach shooting. A notice has been served to the school authorities, who will have to explain.”

The Social Democratic Party of India said it had filed a police complaint against several people including BJP MLAs from the district and an education institution, alleging that arms training was given. Afsar Kodlipet, state secretary of the SDPI, said, “How can they allow the Bajrang Dal to organise shooting training despite there being agencies like police and the Army? The objective of the training is to destroy peace and harmony in society.”

Bajrang Dal regional convener Raghu Sakleshpur said that 116 activists took part in the camp and that airguns were used during the training, adding that there was no need to seek permission to use them. “Also, the trishuls distributed were not sharp. The airgun session was part of self-defence training. We encourage the activists to be involved in Dal’s future activities,” he said.

Former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah condemned the training. He said, “MLAs MP Appachu, KG Bopaiah and Suja Kushalappa participated in the Shaurya Prashikshana Varga event of Bajrang Dal. Do they have any commitment towards our Constitution? Arms training is against the law and the home minister should file a case against the leaders of Bajrang Dal and arrest them. Education Minister BC Nagesh should take action against the school authorities for allowing the Bajrang Dal to organise illegal activities. The BJP should clarify their relationship with organisations like the Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagarana Vedike and others involved in illegal activities. Has the BJP granted any special concession to communal organisations like the Bajrang Dal & Sri Ram Sene to disturb the peace in our state?”

Other Congress leaders too reacted to the controversy. Party MLA Dinesh Gundu Rao wrote, “Why are BajrangDal members receiving arms training? Isn’t training in firearms without a proper license an offence? Isn’t this a violation of the Arms Act 1959, Arms Rules 1962? And Why are @BJP4India leaders openly attending and supporting this activity?”

Another Congress MLA, Rizwan Arshad, tweeted, “At this age, most young men set out to achieve dreams. In K’atka, Bajrang Dal is destroying young lives by training them to unleash violence in the name of religion. This needs to be stopped at any cost.”

And BJP national secretary CT Ravi defended the camp saying even police gave such training to the public. “It is self-defence training and airguns were used. Even the police department gives such training to the public and Bajrang Dal also is organising it. There is nothing wrong.”

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