Husband Ashok says he and Pooja Shakun Pandey have trained their children to kill anyone who ‘challenges the unity of our motherland’.
Aligarh: On his 71st death anniversary, while the nation — led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — was paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi, a self-styled Hindu leader instantly shot to infamy by staging an ‘assassination’ of his effigy in Aligarh Wednesday.
The saffron-clad woman leader, Pooja Shakun Pandey, is no stranger to controversy. She is the national secretary of the All India Hindu Mahasabha, and had told reporters that just like effigies of Ravana are burned every year on Dussehra, she would like to make it a tradition to shoot at Gandhi’s effigies each year on 30 January — the day he was shot dead by Nathuram Godse.
Pandey and her husband Ashok are now in a legal soup after the police filed an FIR against them. While others say that Pandey has gone underground after the FIR, her husband told ThePrint over the phone that they had gone to the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj.
But according to Ashok, killing for their worldview is something the couple have encouraged their children to learn.
“We have trained our children to kill anyone who challenges the unity of our motherland… Our children will not be as naive as us, they will kill many more before they get killed,” he said.
Gandhi the pervert, and Godse’s sacrifice
A mathematics professor by profession, Pandey is a firebrand leader who often attracts media attention with her outlandish statements and actions.
“Poojaji is an extremely brave woman, who has taken sanyaas from ordinary life to serve the cause of Hindutva,” Ashok said. “It’s a tragedy that in our country, an FIR is registered for shooting a pervert like Gandhi, who slept naked with his niece, and is responsible for the death of lakhs of Hindus.”
The presence of the media at the spot was no coincidence: Ashok had alerted the local media a day in advance. “How else will the country’s youth learn about Godse’s sacrifice? How will they know he is the real mahatma?” he asked.
Just last year, Pandey, who is a woman judge of the country’s first ‘Hindu Court’ (on the lines of Sharia courts) in Meerut, said if she was born before Nathuram Godse, she would have killed Mahatma Gandhi with her own hands.
“He (Gandhi) was responsible for the division of India and killings of several lakh Hindus during Partition. I will murder anyone who talks about further of division of the country,” she had reportedly said.
Criticism of BJP govt too
BJP leaders have sought to distance themselves from Pandey. Satish Gautam, the BJP MP from Aligarh, refused to comment on the controversy. However, old photographs of Pandey standing with or close to senior BJP leaders like Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Uma Bharati have surfaced in the media.
Yet, she hasn’t shied away from criticising or openly challenging the BJP government either. Last year, on the occasion of the Hindu New Year, she announced that the Hindu Mahasabha has taken a vow to convert India into a Hindu Rashtra within a year. She went on to state that the government must oblige, and begin by rechristening all the “Muslim-occupied temples” like the Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar, and rebuilding temples there.
According to Ashok, she has also played an integral role in starting the movement for an “eco-friendly” Eid ul-Adha/Bakra-Eid, and in raising the issue of triple talaq all over UP.
In 2017, proposing a solution to triple talaq, Pandey asked all Muslim women who have been victims of triple talaq and nikah halala to convert to Hinduism to get justice.
Also read: For much of his political career, Narendra Modi has been trained to dislike Mahatma Gandhi
‘Valiant activism for a pure cause’
Arguing that it is “unfortunate” that the country and the law don’t recognise her valiant activism for “a pure cause”, Ashok said: “Right now, we are being bullied by the lawmakers for shooting at Gandhi’s effigy, but soon, this will be done in every part of India by every child.”
Mukesh Misra, another Hindu Mahasabha leader, agreed. “Gandhi is the equivalent of Jinnah…both divided India. Our heroes are Veer Savarkar and Nathuram Godse,” he said.
Some Hindu groups like the Hindu Mahasabha, Hindu Sena, etc. commemorate Gandhi’s death anniversary as “Shaurya Diwas” (bravery day) to celebrate Godse’s ‘valour’.
“Celebrating Shaurya Diwas must be mainstreamed in India,” Misra said.
Also read: 2 Hindu Mahasabha leaders booked in UP for setting up ‘religious tribunals’