A video showing members of a Hindu nationalist group receiving firearms training has gone viral on social media in India.
The video depicting Bajrang Dal members in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has been criticised as “coercing young people towards violence and encouraging violence against minorities”, reports the BBC.
Other videos of a recent training camp in Ayodha showed trainees fighting against men dressed up as Muslims, although Bajrang Dal and Vishva Hindu Parishad (its parent organisation) denied knowledge of the tactics used in that video. The leader of the Ayodha camp has been arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiments and spreading communal hatred.
Uttar Pradesh hit the headlines in October last year, when a Muslim was lynched for allegedly eating beef at his home. A total ban on beef was enforced in the state of Maharashtra in March 2015, outlawing the slaughter, consumption or even possession of beef. A number of other states tightened their laws, including Uttar Pradesh, in a bow to Hindu tradition.
India is a secular nation, where almost half the population eats beef, though most of the majority Hindus abstain, believing cows are sacred.
The ban was expected to hit minorities hardest: Dalits (16.6% of the population), Muslims (14.88%), Christians (2.3%) and Sikhs (1.9%).
Today (2 June), a court in India found 24 people guilty of involvement in one of its most notorious inter-communal massacres – the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, was acquitted of any involvement due to insufficient evidence; however critics accused him of not acting, as he should have done, to prevent the violence.
The pattern of discriminatory legislation and attacks is echoed for Indian Christians, as shown in this timeline of Modi’s two year-rule.