India's Hindu hardliners to train men, women in firearms use


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Drizzt
May 13, 2003, 09:50 PM
Agence France Presse


May 9, 2003 Friday

SECTION: International News

LENGTH: 481 words

HEADLINE: India's Hindu hardliners to train men, women in firearms use

DATELINE: AHMEDABAD, India, May 9

BODY:
A right-wing Hindu outfit in India's riot-torn western Gujarat state said Friday it would soon organise camps to train Hindus in martial arts and to use firearms so that they could protect themselves.

"We are beginning our training camps from May 15 and would provide firearms training to 1,200 women and 1,200 men," said Kaushik Mehta, general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu council).

"We feel that every Hindu should be able to protect himself, not expose themselves to any dangers." The VHP cadre were accused of largescale violence during last year's bloody Hindu-Muslim clashes in Gujarat that left over 2,000 dead, mostly Muslims.

Mehta said the camps would also train members in martial arts like judo and karate to "protect themselves from any unforeseen dangers."

The VHP has been holding frequent "self-defence" camps since 1989, training men and women in small towns and villages in fighting skills.

Mehta said that after last year's communal riots there has been a huge surge in the number of applicants opting for such training.

"Earlier we used to conduct just one training camp, but now we have to conduct three training camps and we have to screen those who apply to accept only five persons from each region," he said.

Mehta said that many of those who are given training in firearms apply for firearms licenses or join rifle clubs in their cities.

"Although we give the firearms training on air guns, many of our cadres try to secure licensed firearms or join clubs later on," said Mehta.

"Because of the training that women get in our camp, they are able to protect themselves and others who are victims ... there have been many instances when the women cadre have saved other vulnerable women from harassment," said Kalpana Vyas, organizer of a women's camp.

Out of the 18,000 villages in Gujarat, VHP has a presence in about 9,000 and wants to take this up to 12,000 by December this year.

"Volunteers from around 12,000 villages of Gujarat had gone to Ayodhya when the Babri Mosque was demolished in 1992, we want to extend our reach to all these 12,000 villages before the end of this year," said Mehta.

The 16th century Babri mosque in northern Ayodhya town was demolished by thousands of Hindu zealots in 1992 in a campaign led by the VHP.

In another mass campaign, the VHP has also distributed tridents to about 280,000 persons in Gujarat and about 500,000 nationwide.

The trident is the symbol and weapon of Hindu god Shiva. Opposition parties have said the VHP is trying to stoke communal passions by distributing these tridents which they say look more like daggers.

Recently VHP general secretary Pravin Togadia was arrested in the western desert state of Rajasthan for distributing tridents despite a ban. Rajasthan goes to elections later this year.

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El Tejon
May 13, 2003, 10:41 PM
Vishnu Ranch? School of Makhani? Chakram Academy? Quoitsite? Gangeswater?

Well, in support of Vishnu Ranch, there is Mahisha (the bison demon).:D Instead of Heidi there's Durga.:p

SodaPop
May 13, 2003, 10:50 PM
I'm sure they'll end up fighting with swords.

El Tejon
May 13, 2003, 10:58 PM
Soda, or a bow, a trident, an axe, a mace, etc. Heck, just the beginning class on the "Weapons of Durga", aka WOD1, would take weeks.:D

SodaPop
May 13, 2003, 11:56 PM
When I was a kid my dad would bring home a sword or knife from India every time he went there. I think I have about 20 swords in my house that I got when I was 8-14yrs old. Didn't I have a cool dad?:D

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