The activities of Hindu right-wing outfits in Karnataka did take a back seat after COVID-19 broke out. But with the eventual repeal of lockdown rules, the outfits have started organising more number of rallies and gatherings centred around what they call the 'Hindu cause.'
Since January 2022, the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, which is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), organised six events in Dakshina Kannada district alone, to discuss 'love jihad' and 'Islamic fundamentalism.'
One such event, Bruhat Hindu Jagruthi Sabhe, which The Quint followed closely, has revealed a pattern of hate speeches similar to those made in a Dharam Sansad held in Uttarakhad's Haridwar between 17 and 19 December 2021. Jagruthi Sabhe was held on 6 June 2022 in Vitla of Dakshina Kannada district.
While Hindu Jagaran Vedike leaders said that more such conventions will be held in the future, here's an inside look of the right-wing assembly held at Vitla.
Hate Speeches of VHP, HJV, and Bajrang Dal at Vitla
The Bruhat Hindu Jagruthi Sabhe organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal, and the Hindu Jagaran Vedike (HJV) at Vitla in Dakshina Kannada witnessed the participation of over 500 people.
Here, calling for the unification of Hindu communities against the religious minorities, Muralikrishna Hasantadka gave a speech saying, “Do you think Hindus are keeping quiet? We too are planning for our safety. There is a reaction to every action. This is the basis of Hindu Dharma. I would like to warn everybody who is trying to threaten the Hindu community.”
The statement echoed what the incumbent Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had said about 'action' and 'reaction' a few days after taking oath in 2021. Despite provocative speeches being made, the convention and a related rally were given police permission.
Meanwhile, Tanmayi, a member of VHP and regular contributor to RSS mouthpiece Samvada, alleged that the Islamic community has a hidden agenda and that Muslim men marry Hindu women only to recruit them for ISIS in Syria. She also said, while Christians can take refuge in several countries across the world, Hindus have only India and have nowhere else to go if they were to be attacked by Muslims.
The event also witnessed several communal remarks and hateful statements about Islam as a religion.
“Islam is not a religion. It is not a caste. It is not a culture. It has no morality. It has no civilisation. It is not humane. It is cruel and brutal. It is a gang of looters and rapists,” said Radhakrishna Adyanthaya in his speech. In the same incendiary speech, Adyanthaya also made a call to burn the 'enemies' of Hindus, who were allegedly responsible for 'breaking' the Hindu community.
Activists: 'Inaction Against Hate Speech, Government Complicit'
The Sunni Co-ordination Committee in Vitla has filed a complaint with the police against Radhakrishna Adyanthaya for making derogatory statements against Islam. However, no arrests have yet been made in this regard and when The Quint tried to reach out to the police authorities to enquire about the status of the complaint, no response was given.
However, a source close to the complainant said, "The police say they don't want to arrest Adyanthaya because, they arrested nobody after the SDPI event that was held in Mangalore on 27 May 2022."
There has been a build up of these kinds of events, especially after (Basavaraj) Bommai became the chief minister. One of the main reasons for these kinds of hate speeches being delivered is that other institutions in the state are failing to control these fringe activities."Vinay Sreenivasa, Advocate
Sreenivasa further said, "The government has been informed about these events. The media is talking about it and there are official complaints which have been registered. Despite raising these concerns, there has been no action. This clearly means that the government is complicit in these activities."
Just like the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, the Hindu Janagaruthi Samithi, an organisation with members who are accused or under the police scanner for the murders of scholar MM Kalburgi and editor Gauri Lankesh, too organised an event inside a BBMP hall in Bengaluru's Rajajinagar on 8 May 2022. It was reported that the speakers at the event made unconstitutional remarks without any regard for the law of the land.
More ‘Hindu Conventions’ To Be Held Karnataka
Speaking to The Quint, Muralikrishna Hasantadka, leader of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, an activist group affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said, “We have had over six big Hindu conventions and protests in Dakshina Kannada since January this year. The last three were to condemn the government's inaction over the death of a 14-year-old girl in our district. We plan to have more such gatherings where Hindus are awakened and made aware of issues such as love jihad and cow slaughter.”
Another Hindu right-wing group which is active in Karnataka, Hindu Janajagruthui Samiti, is currently organising an event called the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Rashtra Sammelan (All India Hindu National Convention) in Panaji, Goa
The event which is seeing representatives from across the country, and those from the US, UK, Hong Kong, and Nepal, is a symposium for Hindutva ideologues.
Former CBI director Nageshwar Rao, Advocate Hari Shankar Jain, Vishnu Shankar Jain, and RSS ideologue Chakravarti Sulibele are some of the prominent Hindutva voices to have been speaking at the event. At the event which was attended by over 350 Hindu organisations, 'love jihad,' cow slaughter, and 'forced' conversion were topics of discussion.
"Bollywood is an effective medium to spread love jihad," said one speaker, making references about inter-faith marriages of a few actors in the Bollywood industry.
The RSS affiliate Hindu Jagaran Vedike told The Quint that it was not invited to the conference. The organisation, however, will soon start a series of political protests along with Bajarang Dal to condemn the rising violence over remarks against the Prophet.
Taking to twitter, VHP's General Secretary Milind Parande and Spokesperson Vinod Bansal, wrote in a press release that the Bajrang Dal will now take to the streets to protest against the alleged extremist incidents by "Islamic Jihadi fundamentalists" in the country.
Are Right-Wing Outfits Building Exclusionist Culture?
Hindu Jagran Vedike (HJV) is a national volunteer organisation consisting of only male members, whose main objective, according to the outfit's Facebook page is to fight for the security of Hindus and the nation.
The outfit gained notoriety in 2012 after attacking 12 people at a birthday party in Mangalore. The members of HJV allegedly attacked the partying group which included 5 girls, who were allegedly beaten, stripped, and also molested.
Speaking to The Quint, People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) Leader PB D'sa said, "The group along with Bajarang Dal has been carrying out such acts of moral policing, apart from organising massive socio-religious rallies in Dakshina Kannada."
In the first week of June this year, the HJV was allegedly involved in attacks on minorities. Accusing a pastor in Konalu village of Dakshina Kannada, members of the Hindu Jagaran Vedike barged into a church and allegedly heckled devotees who were engaged in prayers on 4 June 2022. The group also accused the preacher of forcing people to adopt Christianity.
However, Dakishna Kannada SP Rishikesh Sonawane ruled out forced conversion and instead affirmed that the devotees had assembled there out of their own will. Many of the devotees at the church told the police that they had found the place on YouTube and assembled there for prayer.
On 4 June 2022, the Hindu Jagaran Vedike, along with the VHP put up posters in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, restricting auto-rickshaws and other vehicles driven by non-Hindus near the Southadka Ganapathi temple.
The poster read, “People from different faiths have been engaged in love jihad and other miscreant deeds near Southadka’s Hindu place of worship. Therefore, autorickshaws, taxis and other vehicles belonging to non-Hindus have been prevented from entering the place.”
On 30 January 2022, the VHP and Bajrang Dal were also responsible for putting up banners in Mangaluru which read, “Only those who worship the Gods of this land are allowed to trade here.” By putting up these flexes in the coastal city, the fringe group appealed to Hindus to patronise only shops run by merchants of their community.
Speaking to The Quint, social activist Vidya Dinker said, "The right-wing Hindutva have ensured mass consolidations, as a result of which they amassed some power and pelf. They soon realised that they needed more penetration and ensured more activities at the local and neighbourhood level. What we are witnessing today is the reach that political groups have even at a family or an individual's level."
The VHP used to organise Virat Hindu Sammelan or Jan Chetana Yatra once a year, in which over 50,000 people used to gather. However, the VHP has stopped holding such large conventions since 2015, and has instead adopted a strategy to hold rallies and protests at the local level.