BHOPAL" The Durga Vahini, which is in the news after the arrest of Pragya Singh Thakur, is the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's wing for young women. It was founded 20 years ago as a low-profile outfit to train women between the ages of 15 and 30 for other organisations in the Sangh Parivar.
Sangh insiders claim that the Durga Vahini's activities are confined to temples and other places where religious discourses, bhajans, and satsangs are conducted. "Our aim is to insulate young girls from cultural pollution and teach them various ancient Indian traditions," a VHP official said. He said TV was destroying Indian values and affecting young girls adversely. "The Vahini's members discuss ways to protect Indian culture from the Western onslaught."
The Durga Vahini, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, is headed by Mala Rawal,
who is currently based in Gujarat, and has its own independent set-up down to the district level. Once a Durga Vahini member crosses the age of 30, she graduates into the VHP. According to Rawal, Vahini members are trained in karate, air-gun shooting, the use of lathi, yoga, and dhyan during summer training classes.
Rawal claimed that the Vahini's membership runs into lakhs. She said barring Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the Durga Vahini has branches all over India. But the fact remains that the Vahini is not as well-known as the Bajrang Dal, its counterpart for young men, which is celebrating its silver jubilee this year and plans to take its membership to 25 lakh.
Rawal, however, strongly denied any connection with the sadhvi who has kindled media interest in the Durga Vahini.
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