Ayodhya Seers Back Brij Bhushan, Demand POCSO Act Amendment
Image Courtesy: PTI
Ayodhya seers have supported embattled BJP Lok Sabha member and Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, accused of sexual harassment by some of the country’s top women wrestlers.
The seers have started mobilising support for Singh’s Jan Chetna Maha Rally at Ram Katha Park on June 5 and demanded an amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. One of the two FIRs lodged against Singh pertains to the alleged sexual harassment of a minor.
The powerful Mahant Kamal Nayan Das-led Mani Ram Das Chhavni Peeth and the Mahant Maithili Raman Sharan-led Lakshman Qila faction have set aside differences to form a united front to give a reply to the Khap Mahapanchayat, backing the protesting wrestlers.
“Due to Biraj Bhushan’s clout in Devipatan and its epicentre Ayodhya, seers from different factions have come on one platform to support him,” a seer requesting anonymity told Newsclick.
When asked the reason for supporting Singh, the seer said, “Brij Bhushan has been associated with Ayodhya for a long time—from college days to mainstream politics and the Ram Mandir movement, he has spent a large part of his life in Ayodhya. It’s more than enough for seers to support him.”
Demanding an amendment to the POCSO Act, Das said, “Innocent people are being harassed by misusing the POCSO Act. Fake allegations are being levelled against them, especially seers, mahants and politicians. It must be amended.”
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) at Karsewakpuram is also mobilising support for the rally. “We are doing this in our capacity due to his [Singh’s] close association with the Ram Mandir movement,” a VHP office-bearer told the media.
All prominent Khaps and farmer outfits of western Uttar Pradesh, led by Rakesh Tikait, have supported the wrestlers.
Dozens of farmer leaders were detained at the Ghazipur border and placed under house arrest to prevent them from attending the planned Women Mahapanchayat in front of the new Parliament building on Sunday.
“The government is shielding a rape accused. They are not saints but thugs who are protecting the rape accused. Everyone saw what happened to the daughters who brought laurels to the country,” former Lucknow University vice-chancellor Roop Rekha Verma told Newsclick.
Several rights groups, including AIDWA, AIPWA and AIUWFP, led by Verma, held demonstrations in Lucknow to support the wrestlers and demanded Singh’s arrest.
Heads of all Khaps will assemble in Soram village, Muzaffarnagar district, to discuss further course of action on Thursday.
Khap leader Chaudhary Yashpal Singh told Newsclick, “This is not Khaps versus seers but justice versus injustice. The wrestlers are our daughters and justice should prevail at any cost. The saints supporting the Ayodhya rally is unethical as it will garner support for a rape accused.”
Singh added that Tikait and other farmer leaders from Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand will attend the Soram meeting.
An Ayodhya-based journalist requesting anonymity told Newsclick, “Brij Bhusan’s men are working round the clock to mobilise saints in Ayodhya and adjoining districts for the rally. They want to send a message to the wrestlers and the government that all religious outfits are behind the BJP MP and can go to any extent to support him.”
He added that since Ayodhya has become the epicentre of religious politics, no government will risk ignoring the seers.
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