Self-defence training camp in Varanasi: Police raid Durga Vahini camp

Varanasi, May 30: Days after an arms training camp organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) youth wing Bajrang Dal landed in controversy, the police on Sunday inspected a school in Varanasi’s Sigra area where members of Durga Vahini — VHP’s women wing — were taking part in their annual “self-defence” camp.

The police reportedly visited the school, Bharti Siksha Mandir, following a tip-off that firearms were being distributed in the camp organised by the Kashi region of the Vahini. While a VHP office-bearer said the members are being trained on using airguns and lathis for self defence at the camp, police claimed no airgun was found in the school.

“The police did not find anything objectionable. The women were being taught judo,” Varanasi IG S K Bhagat said. Sigra Police Station Officer Anupam Srivastava said: “We did not find any firearm… not even airguns and lathis.”

VHP’s Kashi Prant Organisation Secretary Diwakar said 125 volunteers, including nine members of Matra Shakti, are being trained at the camp. “Senior workers of Durga Vahini are training them… Such training is important for the security of women,” he said.

He claimed that around 50 police personnel visited the camp on Sunday and asked about the use of firearms. “They left after we told them that this is a self-defence training camp, where volunteers are being taught judo and how to use lathis for self defence.

We are not using any firearms or even airguns for training,” Diwakar said. However, VHP joint secretary for Kashi region, Anand Singh, said volunteers are being taught how to use airguns at the camp. “Airguns are being used to train the volunteers.

Temporary structures have been erected and volunteers are using airguns to target these. Whatever they have learned, the volunteers will display the same on Monday before seniors leaders in Varanasi,” Singh said. The camp, which began on May 24, will conclude on Monday.