VHP men, accompanied by police, disrupt Christmas celebrations in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh
<p>Activists from VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal roughed up participants and threw to ground copies of the Bible and posters of Jesus Christ, organisers claim</p>
Activists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and allied groups on Tuesday disrupted Christmas celebrations organised by a local group in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh district.
“Around thirty activists from the VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal showed up at the venue around 9 PM. They roughed up participants, including women and children, and threw to ground copies of the Bible and posters of Jesus Christ,” Karu Lal, the President of Masih Shakti Samiti, the organiser of the event told National Herald over the phone from Pratapgarh.
“There were chants of Jai Shree Ram. They also accused us of forceful conversations,” Lal added.
He further accused the police of being hand-in-glove with the right-wing activists, adding that officers from Superintendent of Police’s (SP) office accompanied the protestors. “Police remained a mute spectator as these men disrespected our religion and beat up the organisers,” he said.
“Instead of thwarting the VHP men from disrupting the event, police detained two of our men, Ramesh Meena and Manish Mekwan. They were released after questioning in the wee hours next morning,” he said
Lal said that the he had asked for police protection in writing from Pratapgarh’s sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) last month. “The SDM told us that he had forwarded the letter to the SP,” he added.
Laxman Meena, the secretary of the Masih Shakti Samiti, echoed the claim that the organisers had been trying to get police protection for the event since last month.
“We handed a letter demanding police protection to one Hari Lal in SP’s office last month. He assured us that we could go ahead with our celebrations and a letter confirming the same would be sent to us shortly. However, nothing came to us in writing,” Meena said.
He added that the group had approached the police on Monday as well, a day before the event.
“We handed another letter demanding police protection on Dec 18. We were given a verbal assurance by officer Mangi Lal Bishnoi that we would encounter no problems at the event,” Meena said.
“We were told that the counting of votes for the municipal elections would take place on Dec 19. Since our celebration was happening right across the road from the District Collector’s (DC) office, we were told that there would already be police presence,” he said.
The organisers accused one Gopalji, who works at the local branch of Bank of Baroda, and Shubham Shandilya of being the ringleaders on Tuesday night. “They both are affiliated to the VHP,” Meena said.
Lal said that the Masih Shakti Samiti had been organising Christmas celebrations in Pratapgarh since last year. “We were given full police protection and nothing untoward happened last year. More than 500 people attended last year’s celebrations,” he said.
“This time around, over 300 people registered to attend the event,” he added.
The group on Wednesday filed a complaint with the District Collector, demanding that action be taken against the right-wing activists, but no arrests had been made in the case as of Thursday evening.
Shankar Lal, a police officer at SP’s office, told NH that the police was looking into the matter and assured of police action.
Another cop, Hari Singh, couldn’t reach for comment.
Published: 21 Dec 2017, 4:23 PM