Madhya Pradesh BJP chief Nandkumar Chouhan on Sunday justified the demand to make identity cards compulsory before allowing men to enter garba venues, saying it was necessary to neutralise threats posed by organisations like Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).
“Such measures are necessary to keep out SIMI, anti-social and goonda elements. We know what SIMI members do in crowded places like railway stations and bus stands,’’ Chouhan told The Indian Express.
The Lok Sabha MP from Khandwa distanced himself and the party from statements by party MLAs like Usha Thakur (Indore) and Rameshwar Sharma (Huzur), who have said Muslim men should be denied entry to such functions and allowed only if they are accompanied by female family members.
When asked if everyone will need to carry identity cards, the state BJP chief said garba organisers will allow familiar and prominent people, but insist on identity proofs when it comes to unfamiliar faces.
Ruling out disciplinary action against Thakur and Sharma, the state party chief said their comments did not reflect the party’s stand. “Whatever Thakur said was in a different capacity and in a different perspective because she herself organises big religious events,’’ he said, adding that organisers are free to take decisions. After Thakur’s statements, the officials in Ujjain and Indore have instructed garba organisers to ensure that men are allowed entry only after checking their photo identity cards. The administration said the instructions were dictated by concern over law and order and were not meant for any particular community or religion.