NEW DELHI: In an event that could be called the first of its kind, members of the Hindu Sena (Army) organised a function in Delhi to pay tribute to Empress Victoria on her 118th death anniversary on January 22.

A mega portrait of Victoria was paraded through Delhi by activists from participating organisations, before they assembled at Jantar Mantar in the city centre.

The organisers, who have time and again stood firmly up in support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the governing BJP, believe that the British Raj constituted India’s first Independence movement, from what they call tyrannical Mughal rule.

Had the British not come to India, the activists believe, the country would never have been united as it was divided into many princely states. They also lauded the British under Victoria for abolishing traditional, oppressive rituals like sati pratha (widow immolation).

Vishnu Gupta, founding president of the Hindu Sena, asserted that colonial rule in India was much more “civilised” than the Mughals’ or those who ruled before them.

“It would be wrong to say that British rule in India was slavery, as all the major institutions in the country today were the contribution of white people. How can such a regime be a symbol of slavery?” Gupta asked.

The organisation’s activists also believe that had the East India Company not come to India, the entire nation would have been converted into an Islamic state governed by sharia law.

“It is the English people who saved the Hindus of this country, otherwise we would all have been converted to Islam by the Mughals. We must be thankful to the colonialists for saving our culture and religion, rather than calling them occupiers,“ Gupta advised.

As the event got underway, chants of “Long Live the Queen” were raised by Hindu Sena activists and supporters, and an Indian flag was hoisted next to the portrait of Victoria.

Surjeet Yadav, the other prominent activist of this organisation, often in the news for its vehement support of PM Modi, or for celebrating Donald Trump’s birthday, claimed that post-independence historiography had been dominated by intellectuals belonging to either the Congress or Communist organisations, historians who made us believe the British were oppressors, and that the Mughals had treated the country as their own.

“Our history has been twirled and twisted by the secular people, who had complete control over academia. They projected the Mughals who raped our women as heroes and the British as our oppressors. However, this is far from the truth. The British introduced modern laws in this country which are still being followed. They were not oppressors but saviours. We must remain grateful to them,“ Yadav declared.

Interestingly, all this was happening just a few hundred meters away from Parliament, at a time when a sedition case against some university students is being debated all over the country.

The Delhi Police remained a silent spectator to the event and speeches, which could well amount to sedition considering the cases that governments have pursued in the past few years under this colonial-era law.

As the event came to an end, a few homeless people living across the street took away the mega portrait of Victoria, perhaps for use as shelter against the chill in the capital.