ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why Ban the Bajrang Dal?

The People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) finds the activities of the Hindutva group, in particular, that of Bajrang Dal (BD) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), repugnant and considers them a major threat to social peace and harmony. However, we do not support the demand being made for proscribing these organisations as PUDR is in principle opposed to the politics of proscription. PUDR has long argued that the politics of imposing a ban on an organisation, which means preventing it from propagating its ideology and mobilising people, is detrimental for India’s constitutional democracy. A ban imposed on political ideology, however abhorrent such ideology may appear, amounts to constricting legitimate political activity. In disallowing people an opportunity to publicly disagree or debate the views, it makes such opinions go underground and simmer and fester in our body politic. Banning an organisation means curtailment of the fundamental freedom to hold political beliefs. Moreover bans stigmatise and isolate particular politics by criminalising it, provide a handle to the state to silence dissent and persecuting people for their beliefs and convictions. We reiterate our demand for lifting the ban on all organisations, such as Students Islamic Movement of India, United Liberation Front of Asom, Communist Party of India (Maoist), National Socialist Council of Nagalim, etc, proscribed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

The context for the ban on VHP and BD is however a little different. Unlike most of the organisations outlawed under the UAPA which have been banned for political dissent and opposing the state, VHP and BD have extensive state patronage and are allowed to indulge in sectarian violence with impunity. So one of the major reasons for this demand being raised at all today is because the central and state governments have studiously downplayed heinous crimes committed by Hindutva organisations and have deliberately allowed them to get away without being brought to book for murder, rape, arson, and loot. By imposing a ban the government now wishes to make it appear as if they are atoning for their lack of will in providing justice to those who have suffered at the hands of Hindutva forces. However, whether the ban will at all be enforced is another matter altogether, given the lack of will of successive governments in curbing the activities of organisations like the VHP and the BD. Moreover with no action being taken against the fountainhead of these organisations, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the cadres of BD and VHP can quite simply disappear by being moved to a variety of organisations that have been promoted by RSS, thus proving the ban to be futile. If the state is sincere and keen to curb the criminal activities of BD and VHP, then it should start prosecuting all those guilty of the anti-Christian violence in Orissa, Karnataka and Kerala.

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