Hindu nationalists burn magazine over militant suspect interview

Source: Reuters - Fri, 7 Feb 2014 14:36 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Magazine interviewed man facing trial for anti-Muslim attacks

* Quoted him saying attacks sanctioned by Hindu nationalist body

* Protesters say is pre-election slur against BJP party

NEW DELHI, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Protesters burned copies of Indian magazine on Friday in protest at an article that linked a string of deadly attacks on Muslims to a Hindu nationalist leader close to India's main opposition party.

The Caravan, a monthly that covers politics and culture, published the article in its February edition based on interviews with Swami Aseemanand from the jail where he is awaiting trial for militant attacks around India that killed more than 100 people between 2006 and 2008.

In the interviews, Aseemanand said the attacks were sanctioned by Mohan Bhagwat, who leads Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's largest Hindu nationalist organization, which has close ties to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Opinion polls show the BJP has a chance of forming India's next government after elections due by May. Most BJP leaders have been members of the RSS - considered the ideological incubator for Hindu nationalism.

The RSS has denied the allegations against Bhagwat and said the interviews were fake. Since the magazine's publication, Aseemanand has denied making the comments.

Hindu hardliners protesting outside The Caravan's offices accused the magazine of working with the Congress party government.

"We're protesting against Caravan because it's hand-in-hand with Congress," said Vishnu Gupta, president of a group called Hindu Sena, or Hindu Army.

Vinod K. Jose, executive editor of The Caravan said that instead of criticizing the magazine, the BJP and the protesters should call for an investigation of Aseemanand's allegations.

"They are trying to attack the messenger," he said. (Reporting by Sruthi Gottipati; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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