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HomeIndiaMurders, 'victimisation', no political clout — UP Brahmins angry after Vikas Dubey...

Murders, ‘victimisation’, no political clout — UP Brahmins angry after Vikas Dubey killing

A number of Brahmin organisations are using Vikas Dubey's 'encounter' killing to assert that Yogi administration is victimising them.

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Lucknow: Brahmins have always been a dominant factor in Uttar Pradesh’s political and social fabric. But there had been a growing chorus within the community that it was losing its clout and was being sidelined by the Yogi Adityanath government, which took over in the state in 2017. 

That chorus has now got shriller with the police “encounter” of gangster Vikas Dubey. 

A number of Brahmin organisations are now up in arms across the state over the way Dubey was killed, even though they admit “he was a criminal”.

“All of us consider Vikas Dubey a criminal but the manner of punishing him for his crimes was not right. He was killed under circumstances worthy of film scripts,” said Aseem Pandey, president of the Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Sangathan Mahasangh (The All India Brahmin Federation). 

He alleged that the state administration was now ill-treating Dubey’s family. “The way his family is being treated is quite wrong. Vikas might be a criminal but why are his wife, children and parents being continuously persecuted?” Pandey asked. “Has the treatment been the same in the case of any Kshatriya or some other upper caste person in place of a Brahmin? Atrocities against Brahmins have been continuously increasing during this government’s tenure.”

In a similar vein, Rajendra Nath Tripathi, president of the Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Mahasabha, said Dubey’s killing was “murder of the Constitution”. 

“The Constitution does not permit any individual or institution to take law into their own hands,” Tripathi said, adding that he was only raising questions on the manner of the “police encounter”. 

The encounter has also sparked Facebook posts by Brahmin organisations that are claiming the community is being “victimised”. 


Also read: Vikas Dubey’s encounter brings focus back on Yogi Adityanath’s ‘thok do’ policy


‘Brahmins are being continuously killed’

Much of the Brahmin angst stems from what the community’s leaders say has been a spate of murders targetting Brahmins, which they allege the Adityanath government has been reluctant to probe.  

According to Pandey, cases of violence against Brahmins took place under previous governments too but “the number of such incidents has increased rapidly under this government”. 

“At least 23 Brahmins have been killed in the last 11 days of June-July. Soon after the formation of Yogi Adityanath government in June 2017, five Brahmins were burnt alive in Unchahar,” Pandey said. “The Yogi government acknowledged the necessity of a proper investigation in this case only after immense pressure was mounted on it by several Brahmin organisations.” 

Tripathi pegs the number of Brahmins at the receiving end of murders at an even higher number. He said over 500 Brahmins have been killed in the last two years under this government. 

“There is no doubt that the Yogi government is anti-Brahmin. The way Brahmins are being oppressed, is enough to prove that the incumbent government is against the Brahmins,” Tripathi said.

ThePrint could not independently verify these numbers. However, while the government does not have specific data on the number of Brahmins killed, there have been some high-profile murder cases, in which the victims were from the community (see box).  

One of them was Hindutva leader Kamlesh Tiwari, who was shot dead on 18 October 2019. Tiwari’s family had questioned the Adityanath government’s decision to downgrade his security cover from 15 guards under the Akhilesh Yadav regime to just two. His mother also refused to accept the Rs 15-lakh compensation that the state government had announced for the family.

Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur
Illustration: Ramandeep Kaur

Victims’ families also said they have not been getting justice under the Yogi government.

A student of Navodaya Vidyalaya student at Mainpuri allegedly committed suicide on 16 September 2019. The girl from a Brahmin family had allegedly been raped, and she had lodged a complaint against the school principal and a few others. Her father told ThePrint that no action has been taken in the nearly 10 months since.  

Aditya Narayan Tiwari alias Kabir Tiwari, a BJP worker, was murdered on 9 October 2019 in Basti. Kabir’s sister Ranjana Tiwari had soon after started a fast-unto-death to get the state government to order a CBI probe. Speaking to ThePrint, she said she ended her protest after local MP Harish Dwivedi and the Basti district magistrate asked her to, promising to set up an SIT to probe the matter. 

“The Yogi government cheated us by recommending that the probe be handed over to the CB-CID, (instead),” she said. “In the last few months, most of the people being murdered belong to the same caste (Brahmin). This makes it clear as to what the government’s intentions are. We have got no justice as of yet despite the fact that my brother was in the BJP.”

Political dominance curtailed 

Political experts say that another major reason for the Brahmin disquiet is the community’s waning influence in politics. Brahmins make up 12 per cent of UP’s population and voted overwhelmingly in favour of the BJP in 2017. 

According to media reports, 58 of the 312 BJP MLAs in Uttar Pradesh are Brahmins but they have not been allocated plum portfolios in the Adityanath cabinet. 

In the 56-member cabinet, nine are Brahmins but only Dinesh Sharma, Shrikant Sharma and Brajesh Pathak hold important portfolios — secondary and higher education, power, and law, respectively.   

The others are all ministers of state — Ram Naresh Agnihotri (excise), Neelkanth Tiwari (tourism and culture, independent charge) Satish Dwivedi (basic education), Anil Sharma (forest, environment), Chandrika Prasad Upadhyay (public works) and Anand Swaroop Shukla (rural development).

Lucknow-based political commentator Sharad Pradhan said while this is not poor representation, Brahmins feel they have lost their clout to the Thakurs, the Kshatriya clan that the chief minister belongs to.  

“Amid the currently prevailing atmosphere in the state’s politics and bureaucracy as well as the manner in which murder cases involving persons of a particular caste have surfaced, there is no doubt that the Brahmins are feeling isolated,” Pradhan said. “Be it the matter of getting better posting in bureaucracy or acquiring key portfolios in the government, dominance of Brahmins has certainly reduced in a considerable way.”  

There are eight Kshatriyas in the UP cabinet including Chief Minister Adityanath, who also holds the housing, urban planning and revenue ministries. 

The other seven include Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh, Sainik Welfare and Home Guards Minister Chetan Chouhan, Rural Development Minister Moti Singh, Women and Child Welfare Minister (MoS, independent charge) Swati Singh, Sugarcane Development Minister Suresh Rana and MoS, Food & Civil Supplies Ranvendra Pratap Singh.

Though there are nine Brahmin ministers, none are considered close to the chief minister, while Kshatriya ministers such as Mahendra Singh, Swati Singh and Chetan Chouhan are known to be Yogi favourites. 

Pradhan said the state government looked for a course correction to strike a balance but its efforts have been undermined by the spate of murders in recent months. “Although some attempts were made in the intervening period to balance the situation, but in the wake of murder cases which have come up in the last few months, it will not be wrong to say that this can become an election issue,” he said. “The battle for supremacy between Brahmins and Thakurs can very well be witnessed during the 2020 assembly polls.”


Also read: ‘Viral letter by slain Kanpur cop’ hints at Vikas Dubey nexus with police, probe launched


Efforts to strike balance via civil service appointments 

The allegations that the Adityanath government was Kshatriyavad (being pro-Kshatriya) has dogged the administration from the very beginning. 

Amid allegations of constant neglect of Brahmins, the state government has attempted to strike a balance by appointing Brahmins to key posts in the civil services. 

Both Chief Secretary R.K. Tiwari and Home Secretary Avnish Awasthi are Brahmins, while another Brahmin, H.C. Awasthi, is the state DGP. 

Other important civil service posts, especially in the police, such as SSP and SP, have been equally divided between Brahmins and Thakurs.  

A Brahmin BJP MLA, however, told ThePrint that the community used to dominate the party organisation when former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to be the MP from Lucknow, but their clout has since gradually diminished. 

“Despite this, we got massive support from the community during the 2017 elections as they were fed up with the SP-BSP,” the MLA said. “However, even in the current government, they did not get the kind of attention we were expecting. Apart from this, anger in the community has increased due to the spate of Brahmins being murdered. If this anger is not satiated, then we may have to bear its brunt during the 2022 polls.”

State BJP spokesperson Manoj Mishra, however, told ThePrint that it was completely wrong to label the Yogi government as being anti-Brahmin. “As of now, the most important posts in the government, whether it is chief secretary or home secretary or DGP, are all with the Brahmins,” he said. “Those who are levelling such accusations are lying. Under the BJP government, there is no discrimination whatsoever on the basis of caste.” 

Opposition looks to cash in

The opposition in Uttar Pradesh is now looking to cash in on what it sees as discontent among Brahmins in the state. 

Senior Congress leader Jitin Prasada, a Brahmin himself, launched the ‘Brahmin Chetna Parishad’ last Monday, even before the Dubey encounter, saying the body would give a “voice” to the Brahmin community, which has been “systematically targeted under the Adityanath regime”.

“Since the Adityanath government came to power, the crimes and killings against Brahmins have increased manifold. They are being killed, and they aren’t being given any justice,” Prasada had earlier told ThePrint.

He had also tweeted a map of UP marking areas where Brahmins were allegedly being murdered across the state.

Since the Dubey encounter, the Samajwadi Party has also voiced support to the community. “The manner in which persons of a particular caste are being murdered is bound to raise some questions,” SP spokesperson Abhishek Mishra said. “When our government was in power, the BJP accused us of being casteist, but now it is no secret on how much casteism is being practised.” 

On Sunday, BSP chief Mayawati joined the bandwagon, tweeting that the Adityanath government should ensure that the Brahmin society is not scared, terrorised and made to feel insecure.

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. You guys are openly and in very detailed manner mention caste and put entire article about it? How does it less communal than the political parties you blame for playing religion or caste card ?

  2. This is a news article purported to attempt a Brahman non Brahmin divide and politicize the issue. There can not exist a human being I repeat a human being who will oppose elimination of a cruel gangster. In case some institutions object this , there must be some vested interests embedded therein.
    Let us learn to call spade a spade .

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