A Hindutva outfit plans to distribute swords to 5,000 men across five venues in Mangalore

The All-India Hindu Mahasabha is planning to go ahead with its Khadga Diksha programme on October 25 here, despite fears of communal flare-ups and a case being booked against its leaders.

The programme will see distribution of swords to some 5,000 young men, who will take a pledge, holding the weapon, to dedicate themselves to protect ‘the nation, women and cow’.

Pranavananda Ramaswami, State executive president of the mahasabha, announced the diksha programme at a public function here on September 15. The mahasabha now says the programme will happen without taking the permission of the police.

Progressive organisations here have expressed fears of communal tension after the programme.

“The event may be symbolic, but the intention isn’t. The hidden meaning is obvious, and is sufficient to create fear. They are asking those attending to be prepared to use the sword during communal disturbances,” said Suresh Bhat Bakrabail, district unit president of the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike. He blamed the police for “not taking action” on the complaint filed by the vedike and other progressive organisations.

After the complaint was filed at the Mangalore North police station, six persons, including Mr. Ramaswami, were booked on September 24 on the charges of promoting enmity between groups (IPC 153A) and making a statement with intent to cause, or likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public (IPC 505 (1)(b)).

“The police should have called those against whom the complaint was filed, made enquiries and warned them. None of this happened,” Mr. Bakrabail said.

The police attribute this to lack of evidence and video footage of the event. “We had asked the complainant and television channels for video footages. We haven’t found anyone who has recorded the speech… but from newspaper clippings we know the accused were careful in their choice of words, and did not refer to any community in the speech,” said an investigating officer.

Mr. Ramaswami confirmed to The Hindu that the police had not asked the organisation to cancel their programme. “It will definitely be held in five places in Mangalore as scheduled,” he said.

The entire operation was being done furtively, he said. “The police will arrest us if they find us distributing swords. We will neither inform them nor the media,” he said. He claimed that with around 13 cases against him, he had little fear of “another arrest.” Asked about fears of communal tension, Mr. Ramaswami said: “Let there be an atmosphere of fear. The attacks on Hindu Dharma will stop then. We are only doing what the police should have done.”

Stating that no programme can occur without the knowledge of the police in the city, Police Commissioner Manish Karbhikar added: “We don’t know the size of the swords that they will distribute. When it happens, we’ll take appropriate action.”