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"People Wanted Revenge And Got It"

The central vice-president of the Bajrang Dal calls the gory killings part of a "Hindu revitalisation movement".

"People Wanted Revenge And Got It"
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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