A leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing Hindu nationalist party that is linked to the Indian Prime Minister and has been accused of forcing Muslims and Christians in India to become Hindu, was apprehended dressed in a burqa and molesting a female Islam adherent during a religious event in India’s most populous state.
Hindustan Times reports Yadav is married to Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) zila panchayat member Shipra Yadav, adding that the alleged molester “was reportedly accompanied by another burqa-clad youth who managed to flee from the scene.”
Under India’s VHP-linked Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the ruling BJP, some Muslims and Indians have been persecuted and others have been arrested for converting to Christianity under a law enacted by the PM’s party.
Some opponents have determined that Modi’s refusal to speak out against forced conversions orchestrated by the VHP party amounted to tacit approval.
Modi’s BJP is the political wing of the the ultra-nationalist umbrella organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), while the VHP is one of the umbrella’s many social wings — considered the most powerful one.
“Richard James, public relations officer for a Christian forum called Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, accused the BJP government of ‘unleashing a reign of terror’ against minority groups, especially Christians, ever since coming to power,” reported Breitbart News earlier this year.
On Saturday, Abhishek Yadav, district secretary of VHP, was caught in the Allahabad district of the state of Uttar Pradeshan (UP) — at shrine (Imambara) built by Shiite Muslims for the commemoration of rituals associated with the mourning, remembrance, and observances of the Muharram, the first month and day of the Islamic calendar.
The Times of India (TOI) reports:
According to reports, a [religious event] was organized near Imambara [Shiite shrine] in Mani Umarpur village in which Muslim scholars and clerics were delivering a sermon. The devotees were sitting segregated by gender.
Around 11.50pm [Saturday], a woman complained of harassment by a burqa-clad person sitting beside her. The locals turned suspicious and asked the person to take off the veil, which the latter refused to do. At this, some women snatched away the veil, and discovered Abhishek Yadav behind it, said Satyendra Singh, station officer, Mauaima.
He was identified by some people present at the program who beat him black and blue even as his accomplice in burqa managed to flee the scene. Some elderly people in the community asked the crowd to exercise restraint and rescued Abhishek.
Yadav was taken to the hospital where he is reportedly recovering after he was arrested by police. Nevertheless, Yadav’s family claims that he was attacked and looted while on his way to the village.
India’s government has seemingly been working hard to maintain its appearance as a secular, tolerant country, being the world’s most populous democracy while portraying its neighbor and rival Pakistan as a terrorism-plagued and intolerant nation in the region.
Meanwhile, it appears that India’s PM has been very cozy with a hardliner Hindu group that wants to ensure everyone in India follows their religion, even by coercion.
Pakistan is not an innocent player, it has been accused of promoting and harboring terrorists as well as forcing people to convert to Islam, but they have also been sounding the alarm of India cracking down on Muslim-majority dissenters in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir who either want independence from India or a merger with Pakistan.
Some estimates claim Indian troops have killed tens of thousands of militants and possible dissenters in their portion of Kashmir, where much of the crackdown has targeted non-Hindus in recent years.
Opponents have accused Modi of turning a blind eye to the VHP’s pressure and supremacist-like ideas about either converting to Hinduism or “coming home” as they like to mask their approach to coercing unwilling people to join their ranks.
Indian authorities in BJP-allied state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) have arrested and jailed 12 individuals, charging them with having converted to Christianity in violation of laws enacted by the BJP that forbid religious conversions.
Uttar Pradesh, where Yadav was apprehended, is considered the birthplace of his Hindu nationalist party, India’s most populous state, and known to be home to a high number of Christians and Muslims.
VHP attempted to “re convert” thousands of Muslims and Christians in an effort “to return to a glorious Hindu past” were preparing to launch an initiative on Christmas Day 2014 dubbed “ghar wapsi,” which translates to “coming home,” explains the New York-based not-for-profit Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which is focused on addressing the root causes of religious extremism in: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Sikhism.
VHP was “very careful to assert that this was not a conversion, since they were simply bringing home those who had strayed from the faith decades or even centuries ago… The party wants to ultimately transform India into a Hindu-only country.”