KARACHI: A six-week undercover investigation by TEHELKA magazine reveals the true colours of right-wing organization Sri Ram Sene, which has been the arbitrator of many violent attacks in India.
As an organisation, the Sene has always claimed for itself a radical Hindu identity. Its leaders position themselves as zealous custodians of “Hindu religion” and “culture”. They will not hesitate to assault people, vandalise property, destroy artistic expressions, separate mixed religion couples — in general, interfere violently — to implement their hard-line agenda.
Voicing his disdain for Muslims, Muthalik says that they pursue Hindu Brahmin or Jain girls so that their children can inherit their brains and be intellectually sharp to help them in their mission. After claiming an attack on girls in 2004 in a pub, Muthalik said, “We took steps to protect our Hindu culture and punished girls who were attempting to destroy that tradition by going to pubs. We will not tolerate anybody who steps out of this code of decency,” according to TEHELKA. However TEHELKA reveals that even violent morality can be a deceitful. Sri Ram Sene members are not just committed ideologists fighting for a ‘cause’.
They can be bought for a price. “Contract rioting” — criminals being handed out contracts or money to create riots — TEHELKA’s investigation shows is an alarming reality. Vandalism can be purchased and cultural nationalism can go on sale. A TEHELKA journalist posing as an artist met Pramod Muthalik, the president of the Sri Ram Sene and asked if the Sri Ram Sene would orchestrate a pre-paid, pre-meditated attack on his painting exhibition using the rationale that all controversy is good publicity.
In return, Muthalik and the Sene would regain the national stature they had achieved during their other claimed attacks, besides pocketing the agreed upon fee. TEHELKA reported that Muthalik readily connected their reporter to one Sene member after another —exposing a disturbingly entrenched criminal mindset. TEHELKA provides an entire script of the conversation between the undercover reporter and the Sene president and concluded that not only does the organisation readily agree to the proposal – including a fee– but also offers a choice of organising the exhibition (and the attack) outside Karnataka as well. “We can do it in Mumbai, Kolkata or Orissa as well,” Muthalik says.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.