SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Barely 10 days before the nine-day dance festival kicks off in Gujarat, a right-wing group that identifies itself as Hindu Asmita Heet Rakshak Samiti (HAHRS) has issued a diktat in Godhra that Muslim youths should not be allowed to enter garba venues in the town to counter ‘love jihad’.
The samiti claims it issued the diktat as Muslim youths enter the garba venues with the intention of luring Hindu girls. “Muslim boys luring Hindu girls at garba venues has always remained a problem in Godhra. Navratri is an auspicious festival. If Muslims have problem with everything including the singing ‘Vande Mataram’, why should they be allowed at garba venues?” alleged Jaimin Shah, one of the leaders of HAHRS.
On Saturday, VHP leader Pravin Togadia had called for the same in Amreli and said that identity cards of each and every person should checked for participants and visitors to such events. “Our volunteers will contact all garba organizers in Gujarat and across the country to request them to make arrangements to check identity proofs of all youths. Navratri is a religious festival and Muslims should not be allowed here,” Togadia had told TOI.
Some organizers have agreed to allow Muslim youths only if they are accompanied by their family. According to the samiti, they have also received support from major garba organizers in Godhra and formed a team of volunteers to ensure that Muslim youth are barred from entering garba venues.
“The garba organizers have assured us that they will not allow Muslim boys to enter the garba venues. Also, we have around 1,500 active members who will keep a check at the venues,” said Shah, adding that the group which hasn’t registered itself is holding awareness meetings in different areas of the town on the issue since over a fortnight.
“We won’t allow any Muslim youth at our garba venue to avoid ‘love jihad’,” said PB Baria, organizer of Aadhya Shakti Garba Mahotsav, which draws a crowd of 35,000 spectators and revelers in the town.
Baria said 250 volunteers and private security personnel will keep a check at the venues to bar Muslim youth from entering the venues. “If they come with their families, they are disciplined. So, we will allow Muslim families inside the venue,” he said.
“The samiti members had approached us with their demands. We don’t want any kind of disturbance and hence we have agreed that we will not collect donation from Muslims nor issue passes,” said KT Parikh, organizer of Maa Shakti Garba Group. “But we have no means to check whether any Muslim or a Hindu is entering the garba venue.”