BHOPAL: Right-wing Hindutva outfits are up in arms against the entry of non-Hindus at Garba pandals during the ongoing Navratra in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh.
While the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has put up posters at Garba-Durga Puja pandals banning entry of non-Hindus in communally-sensitive Ratlam district, at least four youths from a minority community were taken into preventive custody by police after the Bajrang Dal activists raised hue and cry over their presence at a Garba pandal in Indore.
In Indore's Gandhi Nagar area, the Bajrang Dal men, led by Tannu Sharma, created ruckus on Sunday night at a Garba venue in Oxford College located in the Gandhi Nagar area.
"While the administration had granted permission of Garba at the venue for maximum of 800 visitors, the numbers present there were multiple times higher than the permissible limit. Also, non-Hindu youths were present inside the Garba venue. We caught hold of them and handed them over to the Gandhi Nagar police. We won't allow Garba venues to become ideal breeding grounds of love jihad," local Bajrang Dal leader Tannu Sharma said.
The Additional SP (ASP-Indore West) Prashant Chaube confirmed to The New Indian Express that four youngsters (aged between 20-25 years) were taken into preventive custody under Section 151 CrPc and sent to jail, before being released the next day.
"The sub-divisional magistrate of the concerned area had given permission for Garba at the venue for one day (Sunday) till 9 pm for maximum of 800 visitors. But the numbers present at the venue were found to be around 5,000-7000, owing to which the local SDM Parag Jain cancelled the permission at 8.30 pm on Sunday. A case has been registered against the Garba organiser Akshay Tiwari under Section 188 IPC," the ASP said on Tuesday.
Importantly, owing to the possibility of the third Covid wave, the state government has allowed Garba Utsavas only in residential townships/colonies/localities, while permission from the administration is necessary for commercial Garba festivities.
In Ratlam district, meanwhile, the VHP put up posters outside Garba pandals (venues) banning entry of non-Hindus. The posters read: 'Gair Hindu ka Garba prangan mein Pravesh varjit hai' (entry of non-Hindus is banned at Garba venues).
Justifying the move, the VHP's local Dharma Prachar Vibhag secretary Chandan Sharma said, "The incidents of love jihad happen like this. Many non-Hindu men come under disguised identities, make friendships with Hindu girls, then begin love jihad. If the non-Hindu men really want to watch the Garba, why don’t they come with their sisters and mothers, instead of coming alone," Sharma questioned.
While confirming about posters being put up outside Garba pandals, the Ratlam SP Gaurav Tiwari said, "We came to know about it from the local media sources. None of the Garba pandal owners/organisers have any objection to the posters. No one has complained against the putting up of posters."
Opposition to the presence of non-Hindu men at Garba pandals by saffron outfits isn't new. In September 2014, the then ruling BJP MLA from Indore-III constituency Usha Thakur (presently state's tourism and culture minister) had cautioned Garba organisers not to allow non-Hindus into the venues. She had then demanded visitors be allowed entry at Garba venues only on the basis of their valid identity proofs.