//Empowering women – RSS style

Empowering women – RSS style

Statesman News Service

Women activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) take part in a class on fighting with weapons, at a training camp. Over 400 camps have been made across India to train hundreds of thousands of Hindu girls in karate and judo, and combat with guns, knives and swords.  <span id=

The aim behind the VHP’s training programme is to make their women cadres more confident, bold and vocal. The training camp has been named Shaurya Prashikshan, which roughly translated to English would mean bravery training. “Empowering women is the need of the hour. Today crime against women is on the rise. We want to fill our girls and women with self confidence. So we are imparting training to them,” said Ms Vandana Pandey, the local convener of the VHP.

Moreover, we want our women cadres to raise their voice against burning issues of the nation. So we are teaching them how to protest the wrong decisions of the government or ruling parties in a successful way,” she said. “No doubt, our organisation has been named after Goddess Durga, the Goddess of Power. So we want our women to be powerful and such trainings are only the way,” said Ms Pandey.
“After joining this training camp, I have become disciplined and confident. I will attend such camps in the future too,” said 18-year-old Ms Shreya Chauhan, an activist of Durga Vahini.

“I have come to know about the greatness of the ancient Indian culture after joining this camp. This camp has instilled a sense of confidence in me,” said Ms Manorama Singh, another cadre.
“We have experts in Durga Vahini who know how to handle and use firearms and other weapons. At times we take the help of retired soldiers of the army,” said Ms Chuahan.

With the BJP being the ruling party in Madhya Pradesh, the VHP has not taken permission from police for organising the camp which is mandatory as training is being imparted in the use of firearms and other deadly weapons such as swords and knives.
“No permission has been sought from us by the organisation,” said a local police officer on condition of anonymity.

“We have come to know that some girls suffered injuries during mock fights but we are unable to do anything,” he added. A senior police official said he was not aware that such a training camp was being organised.

The VHP at present has plans to impart training to its women cadres in the BJP-ruled states only.
A similar camp was organised in Jaipur from 18 to 25 May. “The next training camp will be organised in Chhattisgarh capital Raipur,” said Ms Pandey.


Reprisal-wary VHP moves on to firearm training

Anil Pathak, April 30, 2003 TIMES NEWS NETWORK

AHMEDABAD: Faced with the threat of reprisal killings after the communal riots, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has decided to give an impetus to its arms training programme for its cadres in Gujarat.

While critics may dub it as another sign of aggression by the vanguards of Hindutva, the VHP says the special emphasis on arms training this year is in view of threats to the life of several VHP and Bajrang Dal activists.

The parishad has decided to go ahead with its arms training camps at Vadodara, Patan and Rajkot where at least 1,200 VHP activists will be imparted training in the use of fire-arms alongwith judo, karate and yoga.

Though the training cell at Dr Vaniker Bhawan, the headquarters of state VHP here, has been flooded with requests from various districts for participation in the camps, the senior functionaries say they have started “careful screening of participants on the basis of their commitment to Hindutva”. VHP sources said, “Those who have cleared ‘trishul diksha’ are accorded priority in selection of volunteers for the training camp”.

The VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders like Surendra Jain, Milind Deshpande, Vinayak Rao and Mahavirji have accepted the invitation extended by the state unit of VHP to address participants at the three camps. The VHP international general secretary Dr Pravin Togadia will attend the inaugural function of the training camp at Patan in North Gujarat on May 17.

The state unit general secretary Dr Kaushik Mehta said that the training camps at Vadodara and Rajkot would be also held during the summer period. “In view of increasing attacks on VHP and BJP leaders by terrorists, the VHP has decided to give more importance to rifle training at these camps,” says Mehta, who is the main co-ordinator of training camps.

These training camps will have separate sessions for yoga, judo and karate. The VHP leaders will deliver lectures on Hindutva.

Activists of Durga Vahini, the VHP’s women’s wing, will also be given rifle training at their camp to be held in Nadiad, Surat and Bhavnagar. The women trainers are currently being briefed at Ghuma on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

At least 350 members of Durga Vahini are expected to attend the training camp which will be inaugurated by Sadhvi Shiva Saraswatiji.

Malaben Rawal, all-India president of Durga Vahini, and Kalpna Trivedi, the state unit chief of Durga Vahini, have been giving training to women activists who are in considerable numbers in Ahmedabad and other big cities of the state.

Trivedi told TNN that as many as 28 activists of Durga Vahini are presently being given training at the reorientation course being conducted at Arjun Ashram at Ghuma.

“In Gujarat, so far we have imparted rifle training to more than 7,000 women. The training is given on airguns, and on completion of this training, several members of Durga Vahini and VHP joined various rifle training institutes and excelled in shooting competitions,” Trivedi said.


Empowering Women, The VHP Way

By Hubert Vaz, The Indian Express,21 May, 2003

This all-girls' summer camp at Juhu, Mumbai is, well, different. The afternoon sun catches the glint on the swords. The air whooshes as three girls bring their lathis down. In a formation, a batch of 20 stands to attention-each holding up a wicked-looking dagger.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad is teaching them how to defend their religious and social rights.

It's got great attendance. There are 71 girls and women between the ages of 15 and 35. One 18-year-old has travelled all the way from Goa-alone. A camp for boys is being run by the Bajrang Dal at Dombivili.

Last year's controversy over a suicide camp run by a retired Colonel in Ambernath (65 km from Mumbai) and the subsequent training camps is not even a blip on this camp's radar.

Asked how the VHP and Bajrang Dal had swept last year's controversy over such camps so smoothly under the carpet, VHP Mumbai president Ramesh Mehta pauses for thought. There are no political connotations, he explains: "We are only training the youth to be brave and better individuals, there is nothing wrong…"

The Vidyanidhi High School at Juhu Scheme is on vacation. Within the premises the Durgavahini Camp, named after the VHP's women's wing, is in full swing.

For Baby Gopal Naik, a Class XII student from Goa, this is the first time. ''I learnt about this camp from a friend and after undergoing it, I realised my own potential. I've come alone by train from Goa, something I could never do before.'' Quite a few of the participants come over and over again.

Like Mani
sha Pilankar, an electronics engineer from Sindhudurg: ''I attended this camp three years ago and am now teaching the use of swords to others. The camp has made me brave and confident and I can today train around 200 girls at a time.''

The same goes for Pallavi Joshi, a college student from Raigad: ''I attended the camp a year ago and it has made me so confident that I even won an all-India elocution contest. Earlier, I used to be an introvert and scared of facing people. Today, I can defend myself and others too.''

Kishoritai Kolekar, a coordinator, has been training girls in these camps for the last five years. When asked why the use of weapons has not been excluded after the uproar a year ago, she said: "There has been no opposition to this camp from any quarter and the girls have been selected from various districts from those with a genuine urge to be trained. Besides, the weapons used, like 'khadga' (swords), 'churika' (daggers) and 'dand' (lathis) are only for self-defence, not for attack.''

The swords and daggers are not sharp and are mere dummies, she admitted, adding that they are used only to prepare the girls to handle emergencies.

Pallavi Balekar, a commerce graduate from Thane, and an expert in wielding a dand, gives her testimony: 'The camp has made me extremely brave and confident. I have no problems interacting with people now and I am confident of defending myself.''



VHP holds training camp for women

Jammu, June 19, 2004
Over 60 girls and women from border areas of Jammu division were provided training in self-defence and to fight social evils and terrorism at a week-long training camp organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The camp provided training to females in the age group of 12 to 25 in karate, yoga and handling of lathis and guns.

The training was given by experts, including some retired army and police officials, and was a regular feature, said Ramakant Dubey of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the VHP.

The camp concluded last evening. — PTI