The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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March of the faithful in handpicked new lab

Jaipur, Dec. 30: Rajasthan, the VHP’s next “Hindutva lab” after Gujarat, has seen a steady rise in the number of madarsas as well as programmes sponsored by the sword arm of the Sangh parivar.

A state home department intelligence report says madarsas have mushroomed in the four desert districts of Jaisalmer, Barmer, Bikaner and Ganganagar — all along the International Border with Pakistan.

The report adds that Hindu organisations, too, have stepped up activities with largescale “Trishul Dhaaran” (brandishing) programmes across the state. The VHP and the Bajrang Dal have been found to be the organisers.

Among other indications of the resurgent Hindu activism are petty group clashes which are blown out of proportion, according to the report.

Rajasthan, now ruled by the Congress, had gifted the BJP a bonus on the day of the Gujarat triumph by electing the party’s candidates from all the three Assembly seats where bypolls were held.

Murmurs had then done the rounds that a string of low-intensity riots had kept the Gujarat pot boiling. The state home department report, though functioning under a regime opposed to the BJP, has now lent a degree of official sanctity to the whispers.

The report notes a rise in incidents of minor scuffles turning into communal clashes across the state, especially over the past three months. This, the report says, could be under the influence of programmes organised by the two outfits.

That Rajasthan is a loud blip on the Sangh parivar’s radar was made clear by VHP leader Praveen Togadia — a frequent visitor to the state — on the day of the Gujarat victory itself.

A jubilant Togadia, who was in Jaipur when Narendra Modi was racing towards the two-thirds majority milestone in Gandhinagar, had said that the “experiment of the Hindutva lab” would be repeated in Delhi via Rajasthan. Like in Gujarat, Muslims account for nine per cent of the population in Rajasthan.

The intelligence report also brings to light changes in the lifestyle of Muslims in the Alwar-Bharatpur belt in the east near Uttar Pradesh and in the Chita-Mehrap belt, adjoining Ajmer.

For instance, the Muslims of Chita-Mehrap used to take the pheras (circling the sacred fire) during weddings along with the customary nikaah. Now they are being urged to give up the pheras.

The Kayamkhani, a community of Muslims said to be Rajput converts, are being dissuaded from using Rajput surnames such as Rathore.

During the past four years, 57 madarsas sprang up in the four desert districts, and in the eight years before that – during the 1990-98 BJP regime - 60 madarsas were set up, the report says. By October this year, the number of madarsas in the four districts had touched 249.

None of these madarsas, kept under close vigil, has shown signs of any anti-national activity. But the report adds that intelligence agencies have noticed renewed religious activism under the influence of the madarsas and various Tabliq Jamats in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, among other states.

The Bajrang Dal organised “Trishul Dhaaran” programmes to spread its ideology, the report says. During the past year, the Dal organised 32 such programmes in various districts, especially those with a noticeable tribal population. As many as 15,297 people participated and vowed to “do or die for the honour of Hinduism”.

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