Lucknow: Just like last year’s murder of Kamlesh Tiwari, another Hindutva proponent has been shot dead in Uttar Pradesh. The man murdered Sunday morning was Ranjeet Bachchan, president of the Vishwa Hindu Mahasabha.
Bachchan was on a morning walk with his cousin Aditya in Lucknow’s Hazratganj area, when an assailant on a motorcycle shot him in the head and fled.
The police have begun their investigations, and eight teams are on the case. The police have issued a CCTV image of the suspect, and asked the public for information. Any usable leads will be rewarded with Rs 50,000.
Lucknow DCP (Central) Dinesh Singh said the body has been identified as Ranjeet Bachchan, but did not speculate about the motive for murder. Ranjeet’s cousin Aditya also received bullet injuries to his hand, the police said.
Sources said Bachchan and his wife Kalindi Sharma were going through some marital discord.
Big B fan, ex-SP man
Hailing from Gorakhpur, Bachchan was originally called Ranjeet Srivastava, according to his acquaintances. He adopted the Bachchan name because he was a die-hard fan of Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan (whose own father had changed the family name to Bachchan from Srivastava).
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Ranjeet was earlier associated with the Samajwadi Party, which had allotted him a government property in Lucknow to live in.
Bachchan and Kalindi had first come to the party’s attention when they undertook a nationwide bicycle yatra between 2002 and 2009 — the cycle being the SP’s election symbol.
The party’s Gorakhpur district president, Kirtinidhi Pandey, told ThePrint that when Akhilesh Yadav ruled the state from 2012 to 2017, the couple had carried out another cycle yatra; this time, going across the length and breadth of UP.
However, after the SP’s heavy defeat to the BJP in the 2017 assembly elections, Bachchan and Kalindi discontinued their association with it, and joined hands with the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha, for which Bachchan served as acting state president for a while. A few months later, he formed his own organisation, titled Vishwa Hindu Mahasabha.
According to political sources, Bachchan never made pro-Hindutva statements when he was with the SP, where he was considered to be in the good books of Shivpal Yadav, brother of founder Mulayam Singh Yadav. However, the party’s 2017 defeat rankled Bachchan; his disappointment grew alongside the Yadav’s family’s internal politics in which Shivpal Yadav quit the party and nephew Akhilesh took over as party chief. So, Bachchan turned towards pro-Hindutva organisations.
Arvind Chitransh, former general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Mahasabha, told ThePrint: “We had formed this organisation in 2017 for the wider promotion of Hindutva. Ranjeet ji was my mentor and a father figure.
“I was ill for a while, which is why I had left my post in the organisation. But I am still fighting the same battle of ideas. I am deeply distressed by the sad news of his murder. This is an attack on Hindutva itself,” Chitransh said.
Yogi govt has ‘failed to protect’ pro-Hindutva leaders
Hanuman Birda, vice-president of Bachchan’s organisation, said he had met him a few months ago, and the latter had said at the time that he was being threatened through phone calls from unknown numbers. But according to Birda, Bachchan was not scared and said he would continue to promote the cause of Hindutva.
Birda also questioned Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of the BJP, saying the CM talks so much about Hindutva, but has failed to protect leaders promoting the cause, and hasn’t learnt its lessons from the Kamlesh Tiwari murder case.
Tiwari was shot on 18 October 2019, also in Lucknow. In that case, the UP Police had arrested both the main accused — Ashfaq Sheikh and Moinuddin Pathan — with the help of the Gujarat anti-terror squad.
This article has been updated with new information that Bachchan had never officially quit the Samajwadi Party.
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