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Communalism

Four Rightwing Activists Arrested After Waving Saffron Flags at Taj Mahal

A viral video shows three men unfurling and waving the flags. A CISF official said they had used selfie sticks to wave them.

New Delhi: Four activists from a Hindu rightwing outfit were arrested for waving saffron flags within the premises of the Taj Mahal in Agra after a video showing the same went viral on social media.

According to the Times of India, the men were identified members of Hindu Jagran Manch’s youth wing Guarav Talwar, Rishi Lavania, Sonu Baghel and Vishesh Kumar.

“Our security personnel use metal detectors for frisking visitors but a small piece of cloth can’t be detected. Selfie sticks are allowed and they used it for hoisting these cloth flags,” a CISF personnel who arrested them told the daily.

The viral video shows three men unfurling and waiving saffron flags while a fourth person recorded the video.

The four men have been charged under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7 in the Criminal Law Amendment Act.

Also read: ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard’ Hindutva: Where Has the Category ‘Communalism’ Gone?

As per the report, on October 25, 2020, activists from the same organisation had entered the premises and sprinkled gangajal (water from the Ganga, considered holy) to “purify” the Taj Mahal. They even peddled a Hindutva claim has been intermittently aired for a while now: that the Taj Mahal is not a mausolem but a temple of Shiva.

In November 2018, a group of women from Rashtriya Bajrang Dal reportedly performed aarti and sprinkled gangajal around the Taj Mahal to protest the offering of prayers by Muslims on a weekday.

According to news reports, in 2008, a group of Shiv Sena activists performed parikrama with folded hands inside the Taj Mahal, following which they were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police and later released.

In 2017, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar, who is known to often make comments like these, had claimed that the 17th century monument was constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan by destroying a Hindu temple.

In August 17, 2017, the Archaeological Survey of India told the Agra court that the Taj Mahal had never been a temple and was always a Muslim tomb.