Mumbai, Nov. 14: At least two organisations — if not sponsored, then “inspired”, by the Shiv Sena — have sprung up to train suicide squads of youths from the majority community.
Some time ago, Bal Thackeray, the Sena chief, had warned of forming such squads. A retired army officer, Lt Gen. P.N. Hoon, former commander-in-chief, Western Command, organiser of a training camp, said the instruction had come from Thackeray.
The Sena quickly distanced itself, saying “orders never came from Balasaheb”.
Hoon said after the 15-day camp at Badlapur in Thane, he would move to Chandigarh and Jammu and then to other places. There was “tremendous enthusiasm among the young men and they have signed certificates saying they will lay down their lives for the country, if needed”, he said.
The youths have been trained to use swords, lathis and guns, besides being given a crash course in karate.
Another retired armyman, Colonel Jayant Chitale, has enlisted around 50 young men for his suicide squad at Ambernath in Pune. Chitale said his was a private enterprise and that Thackeray’s idea of forming suicide squads was only an inspiration.
“Thackeray only articulated what was in my mind for a long time,” Chitale said.
“My Hindustan Atma Ghatki Pathak (Hindustan Suicide Squad) is made up of people who have volunteered to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the country. They belong to no party.”
Sena leader Raj Thackeray said the camps had no links with the Sena and there was little it could do if the organisers had been inspired by Balasaheb.
The Maharashtra government has started the process of arresting Hoon and the group of people he has trained, and the legalities of proceeding against Chitale’s “voluntary and private enterprise” are being examined.
Chitale charges Rs 2,000 for enrolment and the youths have to sign a bond, saying they are willing to die for the country. After the 15-day course, the would-be suicide squad member gets a certificate, saying he or she is good enough to die for the country. Chitale is not afraid of government action. He said he would wait another month to see the “progress” of cross-border terrorism. “Then, we will start our action and devise ways of infiltrating our suicide squads into Pakistan.”