On Wednesday afternoon, 1 March, the Gideons International group -- a Christian non-profit group -- claimed that a mob of around 50 people barged in to their book stall at the New Delhi World Book Fair at around 2.15 pm, and "chanted slogans", "tore posters" and "took away copies of the Bible" at Delhi's Pragati Maidan.
No FIR has been filed in the matter yet.
Purported videos show men in saffron scarves shouting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Jai Shri Ram', and arguing with those at the stall. The videos were shot right after the stall had been vandalised, said the group. A Delhi police officer told The Quint, "We approached the book stall owner but they have not filed a complaint. We asked them if they want to but they said no. We received videos but this is after the incident took place."
One of the videos also shows an unidentified person saying, "I am a Hindu but this is the work of Hindutva. This is politics. Everyone can profess their own faith here. But we should not chant Ram's slogans here. They can do that at home."
The Gideons International group stall is at hall 2, which has several stalls with religious books of all religions such as the Bhagwad Gita, the Quran and the Bible.
'Elderly People In Charge of Stall Were Intimidated,' Claim Volunteers
A volunteer of the Gideons International, on condition of anonymity, told The Quint, "People from different religions -- Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians -- were distributing and selling books in this particular hall. For the last 30-40 years, our group has been distributing the Bible, free of cost."
Since it was a weekday, it was mostly retired people at the stall that day. There were four men and one woman. A group of around 50 people barged in and started screaming 'Free mein Bible dena band karo'. They started intimidating the elderly people at the stall. They tore posters and took away copies of the New Testament.A volunteer of Gideons International
According to the website, the Gideons International is an "Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through associating together for service, sharing personal testimony, and by providing Bibles and New Testaments."
While the group said that the mob belonged to a 'right-wing group', the police have not verified this.
The members said that they have been distributing the Bible for years at numerous book fairs. They claimed that the organisers asked them not to distribute anything free of cost.
"We were in stall 308. In stall 310, people were distributing the Bhagwad Gita and the Hanuman Chalisa but only we were targetted," said the volunteer. He said that the group has not registered a police complaint yet.
Ravinder Tyagi, one of the organisers of the fair, told The Quint, "I got a call from the hall in-charge about the incident. By the time I reached, the situation had died down. I went there merely to request the group to stop distributing anything free of cost." He did not comment about other stalls distributing free books.