Sword-carrying march: Police registers case against VHP's women's wing Durga Vahini

Aryancode Police Station, in rural Thiruvananthapuram, on Monday took a suo motu case against members of Durga Vahini, the women's wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, for carrying out a public march wielding swords through Keezharoor, near Neyyattinkara, on May 22. The march was the culmination of a week-long study camp ('patana shibiram') organised by Durga Vahini at Keezharoor.

The videos and pictures of the march had gone viral on social media. Young women in whites and an orange shawl are seen marching with what looks like long sticks on their left shoulders. In certain pictures, young girls leading the march are seen carrying swords. A complaint was filed against the Durga Vahini march by Popular Front of India (PFI), which has been accused of inciting communal hatred during a public march in Alappuzha. None of the videos had any provocative slogan-shouting by the Durga Vahini cadre.

Nonetheless, in its FIR, the police have slapped only those sections that deal with unlawful assembly and illegal possession of arms. Significantly, sections 153(A), related to promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) or 295 (A), related to deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class, have not been imposed.

In the Alappuzha hate slogan case, the Police remand report stated that the child was taught the slogans by a family friend. The child's father had earlier said that the boy had picked up the slogans during the anti-CAA protests of 2018. According to the remand report, the boy was taught these slogans by the father's friend, Sudheer, who was a frequent visitor to the boy's house. Sudheer, along with the boy's father, has already been taken into police custody.

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