Swords in hand, Hindutva groups march on Ram Navami in Bengal



Waving saffron flags, displaying traditional weapons like swords and mace and shouting "Jai Sri Ram" at high pitch, right wing Hindu outfits on Saturday assembled thousands of people as they celebrated Ram Navami on a massive scale across West Bengal.

A number of armed rallies were taken out by Hindutva supporters including leading lights of the Bharatiya Janata Party in various parts of the state including Birbhum, Bankura, Burdwan, West Medinipur, Howrah and in Mukundapur, Burrabazar, Sealdah, Tollygunj and Jadavpur in Kolkata.

Alongside colourful tableaus, men in saffron kurtas, women in saffron headgear and even minors holding aloft saffron flags walked flaunting weapons while chanting the name of Lord Ram.

A number of heavyweight BJP leaders and several party candidates participated or led the processions.

State BJP President and Medinipur Lok Sabha constituency candidate Dilip Ghosh, donning saffron headgear, took part in Ram Navami celebration in West Medinipur district's Kharagpur, flaunting traditional weapons.

Party's national General Secretary and Kolkata North candidate Rahul Sinha, wearing a saffron turban, was also seen heading a rally.

Both Ghosh and Sinha payed reverence to Lord Ram, while displaying sword, mace, and bow and arrows.

Asked about the opposition's claim that this act during the election was aimed at creating a communal divide, Ghosh said: "If carrying weapons means breaking the code, then the weapons of the jawans and Goddess 'Kali' should also be taken away from their hands. People who are not men enough speak of all these things."

He said that he has taken up arms for good and weapons are "a symbol of power".

BJP's Jadavpur candidate Anupam Hazra, who switched over from Trinomool Congress after being expelled for anti-party activity, participated in a procession in his constituency.

As many as 12 major Ram Navami rallies were taken out in the city and adjoining suburbs under strict police vigil. Several smaller rallies by the local right wing organisations were also held.

"We left no stone unturned in our Ram Navami preparations this year. More than 100 VHP backed big rallies were organised today (Saturday) across districts while tomorrow will be crucial because we are expecting a huge number of rallies on Sunday covering many sensitive areas like Baharampur, Islampur and many others places in the state," VHP spokesperson Sourish Mukherjee said.

He said people's participation in Saturday's rallies were spontaneous.

"More than one lakh people participated in our rally at Purulia while activists and supporters walked shoulder to shoulder in Bankura, Howrah, West Midnapore and many other districts," he said, adding "they brought traditional weapons in the rallies" though the organisation had requested them not to turn rallies into armed ones.

Taunting the ruling Trinamool Congress' participation in Ram Navami, BJP leaders termed it as a victory of the Hindus and the Hindutva agenda.

In a bid to counter the BJP, the Trinamool also organised several colourful Ram Navami processions in districts where activists were seen carrying pictures of Lord Ram and playing devotional songs.IANS