New Delhi: The killing of two Hindu ascetics in Palghar, Maharashtra, last month is all set to become another key flashpoint between the anti-Hindutva and pro-Hindutva forces as the latter doesn’t see it as an isolated incident, but part of a ‘larger design’ to specifically target Hindu leaders associated with anti-conversion movement or who oppose Naxalism or the radical Left.
Two Juna Akhara sadhus Chikne Maharaj Kalpavrukshagiri (70) and Sushilgiri Maharaj (35) along with their 30-year-old driver, Nilesh Telgade, were lynched by a mob on 16 April at Gadchinchale village in Palghar district when they were on their way to Surat in Gujarat.
In an exclusive interview with this author, Atul Jog, organising secretary of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (VKA), which works in the tribal areas across the country to counter Naxalism and conversions into Christianity, said: “Palghar is a stronghold of Communists. They started working there in 1964 and tried to pit the tribals against the non-tribals. Palghar is also one of the areas from where Christianity originated in this region (Maharashtra).
“There is a pattern to such incidents — Swami Lakshmanand was killed in Kandhamal (Odisha) in 2008, Gurudev Santi Kali was shot dead in his ashram in Tripura in 2000 and Ba Rijoy Sing Khongshah, an indigenous Khasi leader, was abducted and killed in 2001. It is clear that all those who oppose conversions and anti-national forces are being targeted specifically,” said Jog, who is also a senior RSS pracharak.
Jog said his organisation doesn’t perceive the Palghar killings to be a purely law and order incident and to unearth the larger conspiracy, he demanded a CBI inquiry.
“If you look at the chain of events… location… and history of Naxalism or Communism in this district, it is clear that it was a well-hatched conspiracy, which appears to have patronage of certain political parties also,” he said.
“The state government has given the investigation to its CID wing, but we would like it to be done by the Central Bureau of Investigation, a central government agency. We want this investigation to be done at the earliest and the culprits should be brought to book as ‘justice delayed is (justice) denied’ and ‘an act of crime that goes unpunished breeds criminals’,” Jog said.
Also read: Not all murdered sadhus anger the BJP like Palghar. There are 50 shades of saffron
Police were ‘not allowed’ to save Palghar sadhus
Explaining why he is calling the Palghar incident a conspiracy, Jog said: “The police were standing silently as the two sadhus and their driver were lynched. The local sarpanch had stopped the mob for three hours but then the sadhus and the driver were dragged out from the forest department’s chowki and brutally murdered, with police and one of the district council representatives standing there as mute spectators.
“In fact, a police party, which was trying to rush to the spot to disperse the mob, was ambushed and kept on hold deliberately in Dadra and Nagar Haveli that adjoins the Palghar district,” he added.
The district administration of Dadra and Nagar Haveli had issued a statement on 30 April, saying a bus of Maharashtra Police was “ambushed” by blocking a road with trees.
“It was reported to the district magistrate, Dadra Nagar Haveli, by police department that Shri Lahnu Zimne, aged 22 years, and Shri Jagdish Chandu Rathad, both residing in Patelpada, Chisda, Khanvel, had led 200-300 people to ambush a Maharashtra Police bus on 16/04/2020 and 17/04/2020 at Chisda village by cutting down the tree and blocking the road.
“They both instigated people to criminally intimidate the police and throw stones at the police bus. They held the buses hostage for more than three hours and also assaulted the police personnel. They damaged the vehicles of Maharashtra Police too,” according to the statement.
The Dadra and Nagar Haveli police have registered a case against the duo, it added.
Also read: Palghar lynching: Muslims, Christians usual suspects. No one blamed Facebook, WhatsApp
‘Don’t expect state govt to play partisan role’
More than 160 people have been arrested in connection with the killings so far. But, according to Jog, the real culprits are still at large.
“We do not expect the state government to play a partisan role in this incident, but unfortunately the state government started defending as soon as the incident happened. It came out immediately with an explanation that it was a case of mistaken identity, but how could it say (this) even before the investigation was done,” asked Jog.
“This is not the first incident of an attack on Hindu workers in this area. In 1990, a similar attack had happened in the Talasari area, where a hostel run by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) was attacked,” he said.
According to Jog, two VHP workers, Appaji Joshi and his wife, were so brutally thrashed that the attackers left the spot after presuming them to be dead. “Appaji got 50 stitches on his head,” Jog said.
“There are 15 churches around the spot where the lynching of the sadhus happened. There are at least two organisations, which are working against the national interests here (Palghar). There are attempts to bring the Pathalgadi movement, which had started in Jharkhand two years ago, here. We have credible evidence of that. This movement aims at rejection of the Indian Constitution by tribals.
“A three-day convention of Adivasi Ekta Parishad was held from 13-15 January in Palghar where provocative speeches were made against national interests,” said Jog.
Covid-19 and tribals
Talking about the state of affairs in tribals areas in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jog said: “Because of a prompt shutdown by villages in tribal areas, the disease hasn’t affected the 120-million strong population of tribals in India as such, but what they now require is forest community rights to strengthen their means of employment.
“The government should grant community forest rights to tribals and help them by putting together processing facilities for their forest produce, which currently gets sold at throwaway prices,” said the RSS pracharak.
Jog informed his organisation’s 3,000 workers supported 45,000 tribal families in 2,500 tribal villages, including 1,000 families in Andaman and Nicobar too, during the lockdown.
“Initially, there were some supply chain issues as far as the essential supplies were concerned, so we filled in the gaps wherever it was necessary. At 439 locations, our skill development centres and self-help groups of tribals made thousands of face masks,” he said.
“We gave buildings of our schools, hostels and hospitals to be used as quarantine facilities for the government authorities. We also had a helpline through which we brought back tribal workers and students in urban areas to their homes. Those who have stayed back are being looked after by our volunteers.
“Our approach should be to empower tribals so that they have employment and other facilities in their villages so they need not go back to the cities. For that, granting community forest rights is the key, it should be expedited and done as early as possible,” said Jog.
The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate, and author of two books on the RSS.
Also read: Sadhus lynched in Palghar were affiliated with this UP akhara, the largest in India
CBI will be entrusted to bring culprits to justice unlike Muslim Congress who shields them. RSS and its supporters will find them and take care if justice is not served.Shiv Sena is doomed.
Will The Print publish an article on the May 2020 archeological discovery at Ram Temple Ayodhya?
Or will The Print conveniently act deaf & dumb?
Why is Shekhar Gupta so keen on spreading hate even if the story is dead and the ”truth” is already known.
These people see a conspiracy under every stone. Just plain fear mongering.
Definitely a deep conspiracy which needs to be investigated. These murders can’t be seen in isolation.
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