New Delhi : Chaos erupted when a group of right-wing workers vandalised a stall containing Christian spiritual books at the New Delhi World Book Fair held in Pragati Maidan on March 1.
A video has emerged on social media Twitter where around 30 men wearing saffron scarves and tilak on their forehead can be seen tearing posters of the New Testament Psalms and Proverbs.
Alleging that Christians target poor Hindu families for religious conversions, they tore copies of The Holy Bible and shouted, “Free Bible bandh karo, dharam parivartan bandh karo” (Stop distributing free copies of the Bible, stop religious conversion) ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
The book fair had several stalls of different genres including different spiritual and religious books. The vandalised counter had put a tag for free Holy Bible, which triggered a few Hindutva men.
One of the volunteers said other stalls also distributed free texts from other religions.
“The men accused us of converting people by forcing them to take the books. We told them that we were only distributing free books to passersby. But they didn’t listen,” the volunteer said IWP.
Mahindri Panchandham, a self-proclaimed member of Unite Hindu, led the vandalism. In the video, when some people from the crowd try to remind him that the Indian Constitution describes the country as a democratic nation where one is free to follow under their free will, Panchandham shot back saying, “Democracy gives the right to preach religion but not to lure poor Hindus and convert them.”
As people try to calm an agitated Panchandham down and reason with him, he refuses to listen and starts raising slogans in a louder tone. Meanwhile, the Delhi Police informed that no complaint was registered by the members of the book fair.
“We check the area and found that no books were torn. The group had only protested and was soon removed. There was no disruption or violence. The Gideons don’t wish to file a complaint and said the matter was sorted,” said a police officer.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesperson Vinod Bansal said that Christian groups and missionaries are infamous for targeting poor Hindu families and tricking them into converting to Christianity. “These groups and missionaries convert people by forcing them to take books. We don’t support this and asked them not to do the same. There was no violence or anything,” he said.