The police are investigating claims of arms training being provided to young men at a summer camp organised by the Bajrang Dal over the past week, following a complaint from the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI).
The DYFI had filed a complaint with Navghar police station in Bhayander on Thursday after noticing pictures posted by a Bajrang Dal karyakarta named Prashant Gupta on his Facebook page. According to the complaint, on May 21, Gupta had posted about a summer camp — to take place from May 25 to June 1 — at Seven Eleven Academy in Bhayander East. The academy is owned by BJP MLA Narendra Mehta.
Gupta allegedly also posted pictures showing young men firing rifles at burning objects, six rifles lying on a floor and a selfie of two men holding rifles with four other firearms lying around them.
Advocate Sanjay Pande, also the DYFI secretary, said the police must probe how the right-wing organisation provided arms training to young men. “This is an offence under the Arms Act. The police should investigate how the organisers of the camp got the weapons. It is very worrying for such a thing to happen inside a school,” he alleged.
However, VHP karyakarta Sunil Acharya, who organised the camp, denied the presence of arms at the camp. “These pictures are of training camps organised in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh earlier. Waha pe log thode dabangg hain. We do not train young men to fire arms in Maharashtra,” he claimed.
Acharya said that the organisation hosts camps every summer and winter where close to 300 men, aged 18-35 years, are imparted physical training through running, wrestling, long jump and yoga.
The Thane Rural Police said that investigation has revealed that the pictures posted by Gupta are not from the Bhayander camp. “The pictures of the weapons were not taken at the camp. We know that the participants at the camp were taught to fire air guns. Since it was private event, they did not need to inform or take permission from us,” said Atul Kulkarni, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Bhayander).
Acharya, however, denied that participants at the camp were taught how to use air guns. No offence has been registered so far.