Defending the Bajrang Dal’s ‘self-defence’ camp at Saraswati Shishu Mandir in Noida Sector-12 as the organisation’s “social responsibility”, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Pravin Togadia on Saturday said it has organised such camps for the last 25 years as is its “constitutional right” across the states, regardless of which party is in power.
“Under the Indian Constitution and law, every citizen of India has the right to pursue activities, and Bajrang Dal has been organising ‘Yuva Shaurya Prasikshan’ camps for the last 25 years to make the youth healthy. The organisation holds such camps in all states – whether administered by the BJP, Congress, SP, BSP or the Communists,” a Bajrang Dal source said backing Togadia’s comments.
Reiterating the reason for the organising such camps, the source said that in 1951, there were nearly 10 lakh patients when India’s population was 30 crore. The population now being 125 crore, the number of patients should have been 45 lakh, but it is in reality 40 crore, the Bajrang Dal member said. “Through such camps, we are trying to make the youth healthy and save Rs 14 lakh crore spent on medical treatment, as stated by the WHO,” another Bajrang Dal member said.
Asked about a video that went viral and showed volunteers wearing skull caps and purportedly carrying firearms, swords and lathis, the VHP chief said, “The visuals of their training have not been broadcast on TV for the first time. They are being shown for the last 15 years. There is nothing new in it.”
Dismissing any import of the caps, Togadia said, “Even my parents used to wear caps in Gujarat. (People in the) entire Hindustan wear caps. Even Hindus wear caps. Earlier there was Gandhi cap, now AAP caps are also there. In Maharashtra, farmers wear caps.”
Asked whether the training programme was influenced by the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, scheduled for early next year, Togadia said the VHP will not do anything with the polls in mind. “We will not support any communal activity in UP; we will not let the environment deteriorate. The UP and Central governments should work together to provide jobs to the youth and check inflation.”
He added that the VHP and the Bajrang Dal would not interfere in any effort the two governments made. About the Shri Ram Janma Bhoomi Nyas, Togadia said the agitation for Ram temple has been going on for the past 450 years.