For ‘LGBTQ Outreach’, Hindutva Radicals File Criminal Complaint Against Mohan Bhagwat

New Delhi: Sandeep Deo, a YouTuber and right-wing author, has filed a criminal complaint against RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Panchajanya editor Praful Ketkar and Organiser editor Hitesh Shankar for allegedly outraging Hindu sentiments. According to the complaint, Bhagwat’s recent interview with the two RSS mouthpieces endorsed and associated homosexuality with Hindu religious figures. Bhagwat has also been accused of making inflammatory remarks against Lord Krishna.

On his blog, Deo claimed that he had reached out to the editors of both magazines wanting them to express regrets and urging them to print a rebuttal, but they allegedly did not respond to the messages. He had also tagged the Sangh chief on Twitter and requested that he take back the statements. M. Nageshwar Rao, the former interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, also shared a copy of the complaint on his Twitter handle.

In the interview, Bhagwat said that Hindu civilisation has traditionally acknowledged the LGBTQ community. He gave the following reference from the Mahabharata:

“Jarasandha had two generals—Hans and Dimbhak. Because the two were extremely close, Krishna spread the rumour that Dimbhaka had died, prompting Hans to commit suicide. Just like that, he killed two generals…What exactly was it? It’s all the same. They both had such relationships. Humans already have this type. It has existed since the dawn of time. As a veterinary doctor, I am aware that this type exists in animals as well. It is biological in nature. However, there is a lot of talk about it. They, too, must survive. They are of a different breed. According to him, they should also receive a separate private space and feel a sense of belonging to the entire society. It’s really quite simple.” 

Deo’s complaint says that the depiction of Hans and Dimbaka as a gay couple or “having attraction towards each other” is not factually correct and cites the “Sri Harivansh purana” as carrying the actual version of this “historical incidence”.

“It is always there that we also have respect for LGBT Community but as a person of Hindu faith/ Santana Dharma, we know that misrepresenting facts from scriptures is never encouraged (sic),” the complaint says. However, in the blog, Deo accuses Bhagwat of “justifying an unnatural act like ‘homosexuality'” through Hindu theology.

Deo says that his feelings and that of many Hindus were “hurt from such kind of unauthorized & disrespecting misrepresentation from scripture just to gain few followers & support of a chunk of masses (sic)”.

Deo has called for a “written apology” from Bhagwat and the editors and that the statements be “removed across all platforms.”

Watch | Queer People React To Mohan Bhagwat’s “Support” for LGBTQ Rights

In the blog, Deo says that the alleged centuries-old “conspiracy” by the so-called colonial and Abrahamic forces of the West “to break the family system of India” has now even seeped into the Sangh. He says that the RSS chief is presenting a wrong interpretation of Hindu scriptures and the magazines of Sangh ideology are publishing it.

“It seems as if the Sangh is playing into the hands of the invisible forces of the West! Due to the silence of Hindu society on this issue, I had to take this ‘legal stand’. I hope that Bhagwatji and the editors of both the magazines will understand the seriousness of this matter and will publish a rebuttal and apologise for this mistake to the Sanatan Vedic Hindu society,” the post says.

Deo also posted a copy of a complaint filed in Indore against Mohan Bhagwat and the two RSS mouthpieces.

Several other prominent right-wing influencers criticised Bhagwat for his “pro-LGBT” position and tweeted on the hashtag #भागवतमाफीमांगो (Bhagwat, apologise).  

 In a video conversation with Sandeep Deo, columnist and author Madhu Purnima Kishwar also condemned Bhagwat’s statement. “This ignorance is like that of Christian missionaries and the conversion mafia… What Bhagwatji has done would fall in the same category. I have a problem with that.”

Radical Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand also criticised Bhagwat and made some incendiary accusations about Bhagwat’s integrity and conduct.

When Bhagwat first made the statement, it was received with considerable scepticism by the Queer community but was lauded in sections of the mainstream media. The comments about the LGBTQ community were part of a longer interview he gave to the two magazines, which drew more attention because of Bhagwat’s assertion that Hindu society was “at war” for a thousand years and it “was natural for people to be aggressive.”

Bhagwat’s statement on LGBT persons was seen as a departure from the Sangh parivar‘s long-held views on homosexuality. Following the decriminalisation of consensual homosexual activity with the scrapping of Section 377, an RSS spokesperson had noted, “Like the Supreme Court’s verdict, we also do not consider this (homosexuality) as a crime…[but] These relationships are not natural, so we do not support this kind of relationship.”

The Wire has reached out to Organiser editor Praful Ketkar for his comments. The story will be updated if and when he or his office responds.

This article was first published on The Wire.