The Bajrang Dal is a militant organisation that forms the youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). It is a member of the RSS family of organisations. The ideology of the organisation is based on Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Founded on 1 October 1984 in Uttar Pradesh, it has since spread throughout India, although its most significant base remains the northern and central portions of the country.
The group runs about 2,500 akhadas, similar to the shakhas (branches) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The name “Bajrang” is a reference to the Hindu deity Hanuman.
The Bajrang Dal’s slogan is ‘Sevā Surakṣā Sanskṛti’ or “service, safety and culture.” One of the main goals of the Dal is to build the Ramjanmabhoomi temple in Ayodhya, the Krishnajanmabhoomi temple in Mathura and the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, which are currently disputed places of worship.
Other goals include protecting India’s “Hindu” identity from the perceived dangers of communism, Muslim demographic growth and Christian conversion, as well as the prevention of cow slaughter.
In October 1984, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) initiated the practice of regular processions to be held in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. These processions were called “Ram-Janaki Rathayatra” and were aimed at “awakening the society.” While the VHP did not officially claim any anti-religion drivers for this practice, many sections of the society in India viewed this as a pro-Hindu movement.
As a result, there was an environment of communal tension and threat surrounding this procession. Under these circumstances, Hindu saints in the VHP called upon the youth to protect the procession. Thus, the Bajrang Dal came into existence. The organisation has since spread beyond Uttar Pradesh.
Ideology and agenda
Among the goals of the Bajrang Dal in modern India is a reversing of the Islamic Invasions and British imperialism. They include demands to convert historical monuments currently disputed into temples. The Bajrang Dal asserts on its website that they are neither communal or divisive. In particular, they say
“The Bajrang Dal is not against any religion. It acknowledges respecting the faith of other people, but expects and asserts for a similar respect of the Hindu Sentiments. Being Hindu, the Bajrang Dal believes in the validity of All Religions and Respect for all human beings, irrespective of caste, colour, and religion (Aatmasvat Sarva Bhuteshu).
It is for this purpose that the Bajrang Dal has undertaken various public-awakening campaigns. It does not believe in violence or any unlawful activity.”
The United States Department of State’s annual report on international religious freedom for 2000 and World Report (2000) by the Human Rights Watch labelled this organisation as a Hindu extremist groupPaul R. Brass, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and South Asian Studies at the University of Washington, described the Bajrang Dal as Indian equivalent of Nazi Germany’s Sturmabteilung