Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti’s month-long padyatra (walking march) through Chhattisgarh ended on Sunday in a field in the city of Raipur with a demand for “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu country).
The padyatra, supported by the BJP and the right-wing groups Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is seen as a move to polarize and consolidate Hindu votes in the state ahead of the Assembly elections.
Addressing a gathering from the stage, Swami Avdheshanand Giri said, “The day Hindus become kattar (staves), the gates of peace and reconciliation will be opened.”
Rajiv Lochan, another saint, from Chitrakoot said, “Hindu Rashtra will start in Chhattisgarh and spread all over the world.” In the event, some people converted back to Hinduism, which they termed “ghar wapsi” (homecoming).
“During the month-long padyatra, around 200 sants and sadhus (saints) visited villages in all districts of Chhattisgarh along the main roads and spread the message of Hindu pride. They talked about the importance of Hindu Rashtra and said that we are all Hindus first and above all castes. We must unite to fight against conversion,” said Acharya Rakesh, 32, vice president of Chhattisgarh Sant Samiti. He said that although they organized the event with the help of VHP, they were independent of any political party.