Interview
"People Wanted Revenge And Got It"
The central vice-president of the Bajrang Dal calls the gory killings part of a "Hindu revitalisation movement".
Interviews Haraeshbhai Bhatt
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Haraeshbhai Bhatt is the central vice-president of the Bajrang Dal and one of those responsible for setting up the Bajrang Dal in Gujarat in the mid-'80s. In an interview to Outlook, Bhatt says Gujarat has been the birthplace of many political movements and the latest round of killings at Godhra marks the beginning of a Hindu revitalisation movement.

What are your views on the rioting and killing of members of the minority community?
There was no rioting. This was just an expression of the way the majority community has felt. For years, Hindus have been pushed around. There is no outcry when Amarnath pilgrims are murdered or Hindus are massacred in Kashmir. Every day our security forces are dying on the border. Temples are being demolished. How come no one speaks out? How is it that when innocent men, women and children are burnt alive in a train in Godhra there is no outrage but when Muslims die in riots there is such a hue and cry?

Is the revitalisation of Hindus confined to Gujarat?
The Hindu 'samaj' is reacting here. Most of the shops and establishments burned down do not belong to Hindus. People wanted their revenge for Godhra and they got it.

Did you hire expert arsonists for the purpose?
We have our ways. But it all revolves around Hindu anger.

How have you built your organisation?
We have worked hard. Between July 1 and August 31 last year alone, we recruited over three lakh people. Out of these, 65,000 have been distributed trishuls at impressive ceremonies throughout the state. Through all these years, we have built our organisation brick by brick. We now have one Bajrang Dal activist in every 2,000 of the population. We also have offices at village, tehsil and district levels.

But isn't distributing trishuls illegal?
No. Under law, any weapon less than six inches is permissible. When Muslims stockpile arms, there is no problem. But a mere trishul gives intellectuals secular fever.

If the Dal cadre is as committed as you say, do you propose to send them to Kashmir?
We would have, but remember, we are not an organisation that attacks. We only hit back when attacked. If needed, we'll go to Kashmir too.

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COMMENTS PRINT
Cover Story
It started in 1885 and is still a long way from being resolved
cover story
The VHP says it's all set to storm Ayodhya on Mar 15, but ground realities suggest otherwise
Sutapa Mukerjee
Cover Story
The Kanchi seer comes up with a workable solution but will the VHP or the Muslims accept it? Free Speech:
Voice Your Opinion and Regular Updates
Priya Sahgal
Cover Story
Is Indian democracy a cover for brute majorityism?, asks Saba Naqvi Bhaumik
Saba Naqvi
Gujarat
All seems not lost when one hears redeeming stories of amity, compassion and unity against all odds.
Interview
The trustee of Gujarat Today the only Muslim newspaper in the state with a wide readership on the recent riots.
OPINION
The hopes of a Muslim middle class that had put Partition's traumas behind it has been dealt a body blow.
Free Speech: Riot After Riot
Prem Shankar Jha
Interview
The Gujarat chief minister is unrepentant and tries to brazen it out.
Ranjit Bhushan
From the Editor-in-chief
Is our country an emerging world power? Or is it a barbaric banana repubic?
Vinod Mehta
Cover Story
Godhra has long been on the trouble-map, but the Sabarmati Express massacre may not have been a premeditated ambush
Priyanka Kakodkar
Cover Story
The overriding theme of the riots: surprisingly systematic targeting, little state intervention
Ranjit Bhushan

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