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UP seer accused of making ‘rape threats’ to Muslim women has ‘criminal past’

Bajrang Das Muni, who issued 'rape threats' to Muslim women in viral video, has been accused of 'fraud' before. Locals also say he is notorious for his communal rhetoric.

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Lucknow: Bajrang Das Muni, the Hindu seer accused of issuing rape threats to Muslim women in a now-viral video, is no stranger to controversies, or even legal trouble, ThePrint has found. According to sources in UP Police, Muni — the mahant (or head) of Maharshi Shri Lakshman Das Udasin Ashram in Khairabad, in UP’s Sitapur district — has previously faced allegations of fraud.

UP Police officers confirmed to ThePrint that Muni has had about four or five criminal cases lodged filed against him — across the different police stations in UP’s Sitapur and Pratapgarh and Maharashtra’s Nashik. According to the officers these cases are still pending in court.

Following Thursday’s video, in which the seer made hate statements and issued rape threats to Muslim women, UP Police has filed another FIR against Muni, under sections 298 (utterance or gesture in the sight of that person or places with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person), 354 (sexual harassment, making sexually-coloured remarks) and 509 (using word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Talking to ThePrint, ADG (law and order) Prashant Kumar said information about Muni’s alleged criminal past has been revealed and there was possibility of action being taken against him soon. The senior police officer, however. didn’t specify the nature of the action. Asked if Muni was likely to be arrested, Kumar only repeated that suitable action will follow soon.

“His criminal past cannot be ruled out. Probe is on,” Kumar said.

A day after the video in which Muni allegedly issues the rape threats went viral, on Friday, the National Commission for Women too pushed for the seer’s arrest and said that police couldn’t be a mute spectator.

ThePrint reached Muni over phone and text messages, but received no response till the publication of this report.  In a video uploaded on social media Friday, Muni has, however, apologised to all women, claiming he respected them all.


Also read: ‘Silence not an option’: Journalists urge constitutional bodies to curb ‘hatred against Muslims’


A criminal past

It was during the first wave of the Covid pandemic in 2020, that Muni came to Khairabad and took charge of the Lakshman Das Udasin Ashram there, says Saket Mishra, a Khairabad local, who said he had contested the 2012 assembly polls on a BJP ticket. Mishra now runs the popular Modi Rasoi — where he himself cooks and serves customers — in Sitapur.

According to Mishra, Muni is originally from the Patti area of UP’s Pratapgarh district and had come in contact with Bindu Maharaj, a seer of the Shad Darshan Akhara Parishad in Trimbakeshwar, Nashik.

An Aadhar card shared by Mishra with ThePrint, which he claims to be of Muni, shows Bindu Maharaj mentioned as Muni’s father.

“However, in 2017, Binduji Maharaj had lodged a complaint against against Muni, and a few others for allegedly misusing his name and photographs, and misleading people via social media. It was also alleged (by Binduji Maharaj) that some people had damaged a Hanuman idol in a temple in Gondi village in Maharashtra’s Jalna district and an FIR had been lodged under IPC sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 504 (intentional insult to cause breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention). Bajrang Muni was allegedly thrown out of the akhara because of the fraud (of using Binduji’s name to mislead people) and later came to Sitapur,” said Mishra.

According to Mishra, in September 2020, he had led locals in a protest against Muni, for allegedly threatening locals to gain control of their properties, “conning” them, and forcefully usurping their properties. It was around this time, he said, that he started collecting information about Muni.

According to him, the seer had claimed to be related to UP CM Yogi Adityanath — his cousin, “mausi ka beta (aunt’s son)”

“When locals realised that he was fooling them, I started to fight for them, but he continues to evade the law because of the patronage of local BJP leaders,” Mishra told ThePrint. Mishra is not part of the BJP anymore.
Other Sitapur locals claim Bajrang Muni’s name before he became a seer was Anupam Mishra and that he was the son of a cop. 
Ajay Singh, a trader added that Muni was not new to making outrageous comments and was a “notorious” for it in Khairabad.

 “He started speaking against Muslims when he came here and tried to gain sympathy of Hindus. However, he soon started selling properties of the and looted crores with the help of the land mafia. The matter is pending in Allahabad High court. He keeps some eight-ten guards with him,” Mishra alleged.

Communal comments

Last year, Muni was allegedly involved in a fight with three Muslim men, who he claimed had injured him, resulting in his walking with a limp.

Mishra claimed, however, that the three men — Ateeq, Salman and Naeeq, who are Khairabad locals — owned an orchard near Muni’s ashram and that Muni allegedly took illegal possession of 40 bighas of their land and framed the three in the assault case.

“When the three complained against him, he attacked himself and levelled allegations against the youths. FIR was lodged against them, not him,” alleged Mishra.

Khairabad SHO Arvind Kumar confirmed to ThePrint that a complaint had been made against Muni, but added that Muni was found to be not guilty and hence no case was registered.

Thursday’s alleged comments, are appear to be not the first time that he has made communally charged comments.

A 2018 video, in which he appears to be calling upon “Hindus to pick up arms” for the cause of Ram Mandir, is also available on Twitter.

“I want to say that so far, the path of love had been used, but we got no success. I believe that so far as Hindu does not pick up arms, till then, Ram temple cannot be constructed. Till the time stairs are not formed out of the corpses of those who are obstacles in the path of the Ram Mandir…till then Ram Mandir cannot be constructed,” he appears to be saying in the video.

When asked by someone who negligence was delaying the Ram temple construction, the seer appears to add, “Fully, first of all, it is negligence of Hindus who are believing the politicians because politicians have made it an issue”.

Claims of death threats

Following Thursday’s video, Muni has claimed that he is receiving death threats from Muslims.

This too, seems to be an old ploy of the seer, however.

In October 2021, Muni reportedly threatened to commit suicide in front of the CM’s office, claiming that a police officer, holding the post of circle officer of Sitapur City “wanted to kill him”.

A few months prior, in July, he had reportedly made similar remarks, claiming that the Sitapur district administration wanted to get him killed and that he “wanted to die of a bullet of the DM-SP”, rather than being killed by “yahudis.”

However, the concerned circle officer, Piyush Singh was quoted in the the media as saying that Muni wanted to get an arms license, and was making baseless allegations because he was being denied the license due to “serious cases being lodged against him in Maharashtra’s Nashik, UP’s Pratapgarh district and Sitapur’s Khairabad”.  

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)


Also read: Seer launches tirade at Kashmir Files show in MP, says ‘stay away from jihadis like from Covid’


 

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