News : Number of Calls to VHP's 'Hindu Helpline' Goes Up by 25%
New Delhi, India, Oct 23, 2015 -- A 24x7 'Hindu helpline' run by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has grown popular with the number of people approaching its call centres going up by 25 per cent in the last one year. Among other things, it also claims to respond to "complaints of cow slaughter."
About 50,000 volunteers are working across states to help people who approach the helpline for medical, travel, legal and religious purposes. Those in emergency - such as accidents - can also seek help.
Reetesh Singh, a young professional working in Allahabad with a drug manufacturing firm, on Thursday had complaints against alleged cow slaughter in his neighbourhood. He dialed the number.
"They gave me the number of senior VHP leader Ashok Singhal for any help in the matter," Singh told MAIL TODAY. Cow slaughter - legal only in some Indian states such as Kerala, West Bengal and most parts of the Northeast - has been a major polarising issue as Muslims and Dalits are involved in the trade.
National president of the facility, Ranjeet Natu, says the helpline's nature is not agitational. "In such cases, we connect people to VHP leaders and workers. In cases, we also pass the information to the police. Our main focus is service," he said. "Our volunteers help even if one has no problem but wants someone reliable around during shopping or sightseeing."
"In India and abroad, billions of Hindus live, work, and travel and need support systems. Sometimes, they want to know about Hindu events - for example the exact muhurat for Mahashivraatri Abhishek. Some may want to know the ancient Hindu name of Swat Valley in Pakistan," said an operator of the helpline.
Natu says in emergencies, this helpline plays the role of a reliable friend of Hindus. "We're also running a subsidiary helpline in 15 cities with its call centre in Ahmedabad. In each city, we have 300-500 doctors who treat patients referred to by us free of cost. Our VHP health 150-200 ambassadors ensure that patients avail of government health schemes," said Natu.
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The helpline also responds to complaints of 'harassment' of Hindu girls, and 'helps' Hindu women married to Muslim husbands. Calls related to 'forced conversions' are also responded to.
Love jihad (fears of Muslim men marrying Hindu women to convert them) has been a major campaign of VHP, a hard-line wing of ruling BJP's ideological parent RSS.
Launching the helpline in 2011, senior VHP leader Pravin Togadia had said the idea was to assist pilgrims in distress and reach out to the Hindus across states and abroad.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Vishwa Hindu Parishad:
Vishva Hindu Pariṣad, abbreviated VHP, is a Hindu right-wing organisation in India and is based on the ideology of Hindutva.
Published: Monday, October 26, 2015
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