A video of scores of people from the Bajrang Dal dancing with swords in the middle of the road in Karnataka’s Belagavi district went viral on social media. The procession was reportedly held on Wednesday, 13 October, on the eve of Ayudha Pooja. The members in the procession were seen violating COVID-19 protocols, with no one wearing masks or maintaining physical distance.
Since the video went viral, several people took to Twitter to criticise the incident and demanded that proper action be taken. According to a report in Times of India, the Deputy Commissioner of Belagavi MG Hiremath said that the violations will be looked into and a proper action will be taken.
Another video, which also went viral, showed several women allegedly belonging to Durga Vahini, the women’s wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), carrying swords in public as part of Dussehra celebrations. This incident reportedly took place at Nargund taluk in Gadag district, which neighbors Belagavi. Here too, COVID-19 protocols were flouted with none of the participants wearing masks or maintaining physical distance.
Meanwhile, in Udupi, the police have booked members of Hindu Jagarana Vedika, who took out a march for Durga Doud on Friday, 15 October.
Police booked the organisers under the Karnataka Epidemics Act and sections of the IPC for violating COVID-19 protocols, reported Times of India.
The Udupi police are also reportedly looking into allegations of trishuls being distributed by Bajrang Dal and VHP members on Ayudha Pooja on Thursday, 14 October, to fight ‘love jihad’. 'Love jihad', which was coined by Hindutva groups to target Muslims, is a fallacious concept that alleges that Hindu women are seduced and trapped by Muslim men on the pretext of converting them to Islam.
A similar event reportedly took place in Dakshina Kannada district as well. Home Minister Araga Jnanendra reportedly defended the Trishul Dharane, stating it is an annual event held by the VHP to mark Ayudha Pooja.
These incidents come just days after a 24-year-old Muslim youth named Arbaaz Aftab was murdered at Khanapur taluk in Belagavi for having a relationship with a Hindu woman. The body of Arbaaz was found dismembered on a railway track. The parents of the woman, who were opposed to their relationship, had allegedly paid Rs 5 lakh to members of a Hindu vigilante group called the Sri Rama Sena Hindustan, an offshoot of Sri Ram Sene headed by Pramod Mutalik, to have Arbaaz murdered.
(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)