Veterans including former armed forces chiefs have expressed outrage at the calls for the killing of India’s Muslims at a three-day conference of sadhus last week in Haridwar, and urged the government to act.
The veterans have also condemned the recent lynching of two men accused of sacrilege at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and at a gurdwara in Kapurthala district of Punjab.
Admiral (retd) Arun Prakash, former navy chief and a 1971 war hero, cited a video of the Haridwar event to ask whether “we want a communal bloodbath”, bringing quick endorsement from General V.P. Malik, who was army chief during the 1999 Kargil War.
Social media users have expressed horror also at a video that appears to show an event by the Hindu Yuva Vahini where the participants take a vow to “fight, die for and, if necessary, kill” to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra.
Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay had attended the December 17-19 Dharma Sansad in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, where videos purportedly show sadhus and Hindutva leaders urging Hindus to take up weapons against Muslims.
Upadhyay, a former Delhi BJP spokesperson, told The Telegraph he was there only on December 19, for “30 minutes”, and witnessed no hate speech. Upadhyay had been arrested briefly in August for organising an event at Jantar Mantar in Delhi where slogans were chanted calling for violence against Muslims.
Tweeting about the Haridwar event, Admiral Prakash wrote: “Why is this not being stopped? With our jawans facing enemies on 2 fronts, do we want a communal bloodbath, domestic turmoil and international disgrace? Is it difficult to understand that anything which damages national cohesion & unity endangers India’s national security?”
General Malik responded: “Agreed. Such speeches disturb public harmony and affect national security. Action required by Civil Admin.”
A former lieutenant-general told this newspaper: “These hate mongers are bigots and a threat to the country’s social fabric. Why has the government not arrested them and slapped the UAPA and sedition cases against them?”
Strategic expert Sushant Sareen tweeted: “Utterly disgusting. If the government does not curb this hate mongering, it is playing with the security of the country.”
Asked why no action had been taken over the Vahini event, a senior Delhi police officer said: “We have seen the videos of the event in Delhi where anti-Muslim slogans were raised. We are awaiting a nod from our top brass so that action can be initiated.”
Major General (retd) Yash Mor condemned the Punjab lynchings, tweeting: “This is so disturbing as the two men were killed in the name of religion in Punjab. We are becoming another Pakistan. This hate should stop or else we are doomed.”