A conference of atheists was supposed to take place in Vrindavan yesterday, but the conference had to be called off after there were protests by local residents belonging to various groups.
The two day conference titled “Aeinwein Masti With Nastik Friends” was being organized by a person named Swami Balendu, but it attracted opposition and protests after Balendu’s views on religions were published in local newspapers on the day the event was supposed to be flagged off.
Local newspapers quoted Balendu as saying that public places of worship were in reality personal places of indulgence of religious leaders. He reportedly said that all holy books like the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, or Guru Granth Sahib were tools to spread superstition and people should keep away from them. He further termed these books as work of fiction and source of entertainment.
Reports suggest that once these views were published in newspapers, many local leaders declared their opposition to the event and vowed to stop it.
Speaking to Amar Ujala newspaper, Imam of Mathura Darwaza Jama Masjid Mohammad Umar Qadri claimed that Balendu had lost his mental balance and that his statement could spread frenzy in the country. Manager of local Gurudwara was also quoted as condemning Balendu’s statement. Muslim groups too submitted an ultimatum to the local administration against the planned event, according to Nai Duniya.
On Friday, a crowd made of up members of various organizations assembled and demanded cancellation of the event. They burnt the effigy of Balendu and shouted slogans against him.
Amar Ujala and Nai Duniya reported that the crowd comprised of local Congress leader, BJP leader, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader, Samajwadi party leaders, Hindu leaders, and some Muslim leaders who confronted the organizers of the event. According to Dainik Jagran, this crowd was joined by some estranged relatives of Balendu too, who accused Balendu’s brother of harassing his wife.
With tensions rising, local administration asked Balendu to cancel the event and issue an apology to the aggrieved parties. As per Amar Ujala, Balendu did as suggested by the administration and police, but a watered down version of the event still took place on Friday night.
So this is how it happened:
- A rather unknown atheist event came into the knowledge of locals after media coverage
- Locals belonging to various religious and political groups opposed the event
- The event was cancelled, but a small gathering of atheists still took place
And this is how The Hindu reported it:
Nowhere in the report by the left-leaning newspaper it is mentioned that those opposing the meeting/conference were also from non-Hindu religious groups or non-Hindutva political groups. That is The Hindu for you.
At the same time, these so-called Hindutva groups should chill a bit about “atheism”.