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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 5, January 21 & January 28, 2023

Footprints of Militant Hindu Nationalism | Arup Kumar Sen

Saturday 21 January 2023, by Arup Kumar Sen

The cover story of the latest issue of The Week began with the following observation: “As a response to the belligerence of Pakistan and lately China, a military-industrial complex seems to be fast taking shape in India” (January 22, 2023). This observation bears testimony to the dominant discourse of Hindu nationalism.

In fact, the signature of militant Hindu nationalism is distinctly visible in the recent statement of the RSS Chief, Mohan Bhagwat: “You see, Hindu society has been at war for over 1,000 years...Sangh has offered its support to it. And it is because of all these that the Hindu society has awakened. It is but natural for those at war to be aggressive.” He also said that “Islam has nothing to fear” in India but “Muslims must abandon their boisterous rhetoric of supremacy.” (See The Indian Express, January 11, 2023)

The footprints of militant Hindu nationalism are pronounced in Jammu and Kashmir. Reportedly, hundreds of villagers in Rajouri and Poonch districts of the Pir Panjal Valley have been imparted basic arms training by the CRPF and the Army over the past week as part of a government policy to revive the Village Defence Committees (VDCs). This has peaked up pace after the Rajouri attack by the militants at the beginning of 2023. It should be noted in this connection that that the VDCs had been disbanded in the early 2000s “amid allegations of crimes, including abduction and rape, committed by its members.” (See The Hindu, January 15, 2023). It is reported in The Hindu: “There (are) at least 16 cases pending in various courts against the formation of these VDCs, or Village Defence Guards (VDGs) as they are called now.” (ibid.)

The composition of the Village Defence Guards (VDGs) perfectly matches with the aggressive agenda of Hindu nationalism: “The VDGs, launched in March 2022, already have some 30,000 members in Jammu, mostly in the Muslim-majority districts where they are largely drawn from the Hindu community. So far, the VDGs had been issued with .303 rifles.” (The Telegraph, January 11, 2023)

It may be mentioned in this connection that the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, recently said that borders could be permanently secured only when the border villages are populated by patriotic citizens, and asked the border-guarding forces to strengthen the Vibrant Village Programme (VVP) for the same. (See The Hindu, December 30, 2022)

We have no doubts in our minds that the aggressive agenda of Hindu nationalism unfolding before us has distinct anti-Muslim dimensions.

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