By Ishita Mishra / The Hindu
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) international working president Alok Kumar spoke to The Hindu on issues such as the Kashi and Mathura mosques, suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma and the violence that followed her statement. Mr. Kumar said Kashi and Mathura continued to be an agenda of the Hindus, including the VHP, and ‘we shall strive to get them back’.
You have said that Hindus will get to worship in Kashi and Mathura mosques in their lifetime. What makes you so convinced about it?
I am a student of law and have been practising since 1981. I have studied both the law suits in detail. It is my understanding that the Hindus have a very good case, particularly, after the discovery of a Shivling in Varanasi. It is based upon that understanding of law that I am confident that the Hindus will win both the law suits.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat recently said that people must not look for shivling under every mosque and that there would be no movement for Kashi and Mathura. What is VHP’s stand on this?
As far as Mr. Bhagwat’s statement is concerned, he spoke for the RSS and not for the VHP. He said that the RSS, as an organisation, does not ordinarily participate in agitation and movements. Ram Janmabhoomi was an exception. But, as far as the VHP is concerned, we believe that Kashi and Mathura are and continue to be an agenda of the Hindus, including the VHP, and we shall strive to get them back. Our actions will be peaceful and under the Constitution. Also, we all should wait for the judgment of the court.
As far as the first part of Mr. Bhagwat’s statement is concerned, we are not looking for shivlings in every mosque. We are looking for it where it existed. It is those mosques which were constructed after demolishing a temple.
You said that there was nothing wrong in what Nupur Sharma has said. But both the RSS and the BJP have distanced themselves from her. Why?
No, I didn’t say that. I said if some people had a grievance against her statement they have a legal system to follow. FIRs have been filed against her, police is investigating the matter and a magistrate will hold a trial and decide if she is guilty or not. But hundreds of Muslims took to streets, rampaging, throwing stones and even burning.
At many places, they were accompanied by speeches that declared punishments for her. Under our legal system, no crowd can decide her punishment, the court would decide. And in this context, we insist that India will not accept the efforts to impose Sharia law. Blasphemy is a Sharia law.
Second, Nupur referred to two incidents of the Prophet’s life, the happening of which even the orthodox Muslims accept. She made no comment about them. The court will decide whether her statements have crossed any limits or were within the limits.
Also, I have studied the statement made by Nupur and I feel that she has a strong defence.
Saying that I wasn’t very happy with what the judges have said is an understatement. I am unhappy and disappointed. Disappointed, not for their comments but because they didn’t follow the law laid down by the Supreme Court which says that there can be only one FIR registered in one case. Two persons have been killed just for supporting her and hundreds have been threatened. There is an obvious danger to her life and it will be aggravated If she travels to Bengal and Assam for hearings. My disappointment was that the judges didn’t ask all cases to be clubbed and to be heard in Delhi.
Second, my disappointment was that the SC wasn’t hearing the case on whether she is guilty or not. This would be decided by a magistrate after the trial. So making statements, holding her responsible for violence and killings is like trying to decide the case. Such comments should have been avoided. They were not called for.
When I was in college, a group of us was mocking another student. He said to me that Alok Ji I have respect for you. You will also have to see that this respect is maintained. There is something like respect is being commanded and not demanded. So therefore there are ‘lakshman rekhas’ for every institution including for the judges which probably they have crossed in this case.
And SC has said in various judgments that what a judge speaks or asks during a hearing shouldn’t be construed as an order of the court. An order of the court is what he writes. And I noticed that all these comments were no part of their order. So why did they make them?
The VHP has recently launched Bajrang Dal helpline for Hindus. What was its need? What would it do?
I want to make this clear that we are not making any parallel army. We have received reports from across the country that people are being threatened for their social media posts. The Bajrang Dal members will only help people to reach the police and will ensure that his/her grievance is addressed and that too in a constitutional way.
But do you think Bajrang Dal members have a sense of law to help people to deal with system?
Your idea about Bajrang Dal is all wrong. It is a well-oiled machinery that has people who are well aware of law, constitution and rights of the people.
This article first appeared in thehindu.com