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Hindutva activists target venue of atheists’ meet

A venue of a private meeting of atheists in Mathura was allegedly attacked by Hindutva activists on Friday morning. The meeting, which was to start in the afternoon, was cancelled.

Spiritual guru-turned-atheist Swami Balendu, who had invited like-minded atheists, friends and acquaintances from different parts of the country, to his ashram in Mathura, said immediately after the alleged attack senior police officials came with the Hindutva activists and forced him to cancel the meeting.

Police officials reportedly told Swami Balendu they could not guarantee security to him and his guests because of the ‘tension’ in the city due to the proposed private meet.

Under pressure from Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Prishad and other Hindutva groups, the Mathura administration which had earlier given permission for the private meeting, also withdrew it.

Senior administrative officials said they had to request the organisers to cancel the meeting as it could pose a “law and order problem.”

“Over 50 activists of the VHP, the Bajrang Dal and local Hindutva groups reached the Bindu Seva Sansathan Ashram at about 10 in the morning and started shouting slogans and attacking the ashram property. Armed with sticks, the Hindutva activists broke the glass panels of the ashram,” Swami Balendu told The Hindu on phone from Mathura.

“Immediately after the attack, the Hindutva activists, accompanied by senior police officials, told us that the protest was a mere start and if we went ahead with the meeting then much bigger things could happen in the city,” he said.

“Even though it was a private event we had taken official permission. The Constitution permits us to be non-believers. But this seems like an all-out attack on the freedom of expression and the freedom to be a non-believer,” added Swami Balendu.