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Controversial UP priest Yati Narsinghanand is now a top leader of India’s largest akhara

Juna Akhara is the largest recognised sect of Hindu seers in India, and Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati has reportedly been named its 'mahamandaleshwar'.

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New Delhi: Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the 53-year-old head priest of Dasna Devi temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, has reportedly been ordained as the mahamandaleshwar of Juna Akhara, the largest recognised sect of Hindu seers in the country.

The move comes days after Yati Narsinghanand was accepted as a disciple by Mahant Hari Giri, the general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad and an international patron of Juna Akhara.

His elevation to one of the highest titles accorded by an akhara assumes significance, given how he has been accused of inciting communal tension through “extremely provocative speeches” against the Muslim community on several occasions. He also made headlines earlier this year after he allegedly told devotees that women politicians, particularly in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), are “mistresses” of their male counterparts.

This Tuesday, Yati Narsinghanand’s female disciple Madhu Sharma, also known as Maa Madhura, was seen assaulting a Muslim man on a train, forcing him to touch her feet after she alleged that he pushed her while passing through the railway coach. 

Earlier this month, Narsinghanand himself landed in controversy when he called a 10-year-old Muslim boy “a trained killer” for wandering in the vicinity of the Dasna Devi temple. The boy, police later confirmed, had got lost on his way to the community health centre, where his pregnant sister-in-law was admitted, and accidentally entered the temple.

In March, one of his disciples, Sevak Shringi Nandan Yadav, was captured assaulting a 14-year-old Muslim boy. Upon finding out his Muslim identity, Yadav had allegedly repeatedly kicked him in his genitals, twisted his arms, and banged them on the ground. The boy hadn’t know the temple prohibits the entrance of Muslims, and had gone there to drink water.

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‘Islam-mukt Bharat’

From training Hindu men between the ages of 8 and 25 to fight the Islamic State, to convincing them to have more children to outnumber Muslims, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati says he has always been fighting to create an “Islam-mukt Bharat”. 

He was labelled a “serial troublemaker” by the Uttar Pradesh Police in 2019 for his repeated attempts to incite communal tensions. 

While his anti-Muslim rhetoric earned him recognition among Right-wing leaders, he lost some of his allies in August this year, after a video went viral on social media which recorded him saying: “Women politicians, particularly in the BJP, are rakhails (mistresses) of their male counterparts.”

Russia-educated engineer

Narsinghanand claims that he went to Russia to complete a master’s degree from what was then known as the Moscow Institute of Chemical Machine Building.

Following this, he worked as an engineer and also as a marketer at various companies in Russia and the United Kingdom for over nine years. He returned to India in 1997 and taught mathematics to Class 11 and 12 students, following which, he claims, he was approached by the Samajwadi Party “to lead their youth brigade”. 

None of the party members ThePrint had spoken to earlier recalled his stint with the party.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

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