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The Rediff Interview/D N Murthy, VHP general secretary

'Calling Bajrang Dal's action as terrorism is utter nonsense'

October 16, 2008


D N Murthy
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If there is one issue that has replaced terrorism and the slumping markets that is the attacks on the Christians which, according to Hindutva activists, is sparked off by forcible conversions. It all started in Orissa and then gradually spread to Karnataka and now even Tamil Nadu.

The issue has become a hot political potato with the United Progressive Alliance considering a ban on the Bajrang Dal for its reign of terror and the saffron brigade daring it to go ahead with the ban.

In an interview with Special Correspondent Vicky Nanjappa, D N Murthy, general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, talks about religious conversions, the violence that it sparked off, and also the allegations of terrorism being made against some Hindutva activists.

The issue has spiralled out of control. So much violence and no solution in sight. The Union government and the international community have reacted very sharply to the violence in Orissa and Karnataka. Being a very senior man in the VHP, what are your views on this?

You call the incidents in Karnataka as violence. A few glass panes were broken and you call that terrorism. In Karnataka not a single person was injured. What are these people talking about? It is ridiculous. Glass panes of cinema theatres are broken due to certain disputes. Can you call this terrorism? Did the Union government react in this manner? The people are just protesting against those indulging in forcible conversion. That is all.

The Bajrang Dal is being seen as the perpetrator of this violence. The government came very close to banning it. What do you have to say about banning the Bajrang Dal?

Ask the Congress this question. All right, tell me something. They planned to ban it but were they able to? What allegations are they making against the Bajrang Dal? There is no consensus even among the allies of the Congress on this issue.

An act of terror does not necessarily have to limit itself to bomb blasts. Violence and destruction in any form is also terrorism. Since the Bajrang Dal has indulged in violent acts don't you think it classifies as terrorism?

Bajrang Dal and terrorism?  Whoever says this has no common sense. There are so many terror attacks in the country in which so many innocent lives have been lost. The security agencies are unable to nab the real culprits who always manage to give the slip. As I said earlier, in Karnataka not a single person was injured and you call the Bajrang Dal's actions as terrorism. It is utter nonsense.

What about Orissa? People were killed and raped over there.

In Orissa the people were just reacting to forcible conversions. Over there forcible conversions have damaged the lives of thousands of people and there were protests against it.

But Orissa or Karnataka, violence is violence. Are you saying the VHP justifies the violence in Orissa or even in Karnataka?

We do not believe in violence. I am aware that nothing can be achieved by violence. The Bajrang Dal is protesting against conversions. But get this clearly into your head. Our direction to the Bajrang Dal is simple and straight-forward. It is Seva (service), Samskara (culture) and Suraksha (security). They have been asked to follow these three points.

If you do not approve of the violence and your message to the Bajrang Dal is that of peace and protection, then who is behind the madness that has claimed so many lives?

Yes, there were protests against conversions. If there were instances of horrific violence then it was due to personal scuffles in some areas. If one of two persons have indulged in acts of serious violence can you blame the entire organisation? The police force is meant to protect but there are some policemen who misbehave. Does that mean you brand the entire organisation and brand the entire police force as rotten?

But what about those one or two people? They were also part of the Bajrang Dal and they too know about Seva, Samskara, and Suraksha. Will the VHP keep quiet and not do anything about them?

Did I say we will keep quiet? We will surely act against them.

The state convener of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Professor M B Puranik, told me in an interview recently that once a Hindu converts his loyalties shift. Do you agree with that?

Yes, the loyalties do shift. But I would also like to add that everyone has a right to practice a religion. But nobody has the right to convert. If a conversion is based on an ideological acceptance of a new way of life, it is fine. But conversions in large numbers or mass conversions are deplorable. I can understand when an educated man converts. He can think and decide for himself what each religion has to offer. Why are missionaries targeting slum-dwellers and tribals? What can these people understand?

Do you have proof that conversions are really taking place? If yes please give me figures.

I cannot give you the figures off-hand. But, yes, the census says it all. The number of Christians has gone up all of a sudden in the past few years. Looking at the census I could easily say that the rise in population is just not proportionate. It is really hard to tell the difference between a Hindu and a Hindu who has converted.

The missionaries have found a way of duping the people. The women who have been converted continue to wear saris, bangles, and bindis, and this is not different when compared to the way a Hindu woman dresses. Even if these persons are found in a  church during mass, the missionaries claim they have just come there for prayers. This is the way in which they dupe the people.

How much of the problem has been solved after these sudden outbursts? Or let me put it this way. Will the problem ever be solved?

The problem surely will not be solved unless and until both Christians and Muslims agree that all other religions are great too and their path is not the only path to reach God. In India our practice is to welcome all great thoughts. We believe that all religions' ways are towards God. The problem is that both Christians and Muslims think it is only their way which takes people ultimately to God. They say theirs is the right path and the only way to attain salvation. The problem will be solved only if Muslims and Christians agree that all religions are great and have the same goal.

Many have said it is unfair that while Muslims get blamed for terror strikes, Hindu activists who indulge in bomb blasts as in Nanded and Kanpur get away. What is your reaction to this?

If they think Hindu activists are involved in terror activities then let them probe. Nobody is stopping them.


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