20/01/2016 12:22 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Hindu 'Dharma Sena' Trains Thousands Of Fighters To Fight ISIS In India

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RAJASTHAN, INDIA - 2015/11/19: A child standing with a sword in hand during the sunset at the annual cattle fair in Pushkar, western Rajasthan state. Pushkar is a popular Hindu pilgrimage spot that is also frequented by foreign tourists who come to the town for its annual cattle fair. (Photo by Shaukat Ahmed/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In an apparent response to the Islamic State, a Hindu outfit is training thousands of people — some of them children as young as eight years old — to fight with guns, swords, and rocket launchers. In two years, the Hindu Swabhiman has prepared 15,000 such fighters as part of their "dharma sena".

A Times of India investigation found that there are 50 such training camps across western Uttar Pradesh, who are preparing to fight the ISIS, which they believe will take over the area by 2020. One leader described their motto for training people as "catch them young" — where after the first six months of training, children begin learning how to use guns.

At the centre of the group's efforts is Swami Narsinghanand Saraswati (born Deepak Tyagi), a Hindu ascetic on whose ideology this 'army' is being built. He told TOI that he fully supports an extremist Hindu outfit as an answer to ISIS to "fight fire with fire". He called for support from Hindus all over the country to help them get access to more weapons.

In fact, they have already started reaching out to Hindus in the country by speaking to two panchayats a month, propagating the idea that people should die fighting against "the enemy".

"At the panchayats, I ask my Hindu lions to be brave and make sure they keep weapons with them at all times," Saraswati told TOI. "During the Muzaffarnagar riots, we went to the ground and asked people to be armed. All these politicians, who claim credit for saving Hindus, are lying."

"I am preparing my people for civil war."

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