As Gujarat is gearing up for nineday Navratri celebrations, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal have issued a diktat asking garba organisers not to allow Muslims at the festival events. The outfits have reportedly decided to form squads to conduct “overnight combing operations to weed out Muslims from garba programmes”.
Last week, Hindu Asmita Hitrakshak Samiti – a newly-floated organisation – had formed a team to ensure that no Muslim youth is allowed inside the festival venues. The organisation reportedly enjoys the VHP’s support.
The VHP has also issued a warning to the BJP-led Anandiben government to ensure that Muslims do not participate in the official garba events. The outfit also said Hindu organisations would constitute own intelligence teams to keep track of Muslims getting into garba events.
“Garba organisers and the state government should ensure this. Otherwise, the VHP will initiate direct action against Muslims,” VHP guidance unit leader Mahant Akhileshwardas said.
He claimed that the VHP would object to entry of Muslims into garba venues in a “democratic manner” and carry out state-wide awareness drive to explain why they should not be allowed at venues where the Hindu religious festivals are celebrated. State VHP general secretary Ranchhod Bharwad said if Muslim youth wished to participate in garba events, they should first convert to Hinduism.
The Hindu organisations have also sought apology and arrest of Sufi saint Mehdi Hassan Shah Baba for stating that the garba festival has transgressed to one of demons. The Sufi saint had offered a skullcap to Narendra Modi when he as the chief minister took out his Sadbhavna Yatra for communal harmony. The outfits asked the authorities to register a case against the Sufi saint under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA).
Baba had allegedly stated that the garbas had no longer remained a religious festival with “youngsters dancing to Bollywood tunes and many coming in inebriated condition, like demons”. The Sufi saint he would apologise and that he would go to jail if he was arrested.