In a video that been widely circulated on social media, a group of Bajrang Dal activists are seen brandishing swords and dancing on the road during a procession on the eve of Ayudha Pooja in Karnataka’s Belagavi.
The procession was taken in violation of COVID-19 protocols as none of the participants was seen wearing a face mask or keeping physical distance.
While the act has received heavy backlash on Twitter, with users criticizing the BJP government for giving permission for such rallies and a minister even defending these events, Belagavi’s Deputy Commissioner MG Hiremath has said that the incident will be probed into and action with be taken against the lawbreakers.
In a similar video, women who are allegedly members of Durga Vahini, the female wing of Bajrang Dal, were seen carrying swords during Dussehra celebrations in Nargund taluk of Gadag district, in utter defiance of COVID-19 protocols.
Udupi Police recently filed an FIR against organisers of Hindu Jagarana Vedika, under the Karnataka Epidemics Act and sections of the IPC for flouting COVID-19 protocols during a procession for Durga Doud on October 15.
The police are also probing allegations against Bajrang Dal and VHP members for distributing trishuls (tridents) on Ayudha Pooja (October 14) to fight ‘love jihad’.
While a similar event where participants of a procession were seen holding tridents, was was reported from Dakshina Kannada district (where the harassment of inter-faith couples has seen a spike in the last few days) state Home Minister Araga Jnanendra defended the act saying it is an annual event organized by the VHP on the occasion of Ayudha Pooja.
Such wilful display of power by Hindu outfits in the state comes days after a 24-year-old Muslim youth Arbaaz Aftab was killed in Belagavi for being in relationship with a Hindu woman. Arbaaz’s body was found in a dismembered state on a railway track. According to reports, Arbaaz’s parents had paid ₹5 lakh to contract killers to murder him.
So far, 10 people including the woman’s parents and Pundalik Mutgekar, the president of Sri Rama Sena Hindustan in Khanapur, Belagavi, have been arrested in the case.