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Mathura violence: Who is Ram Vriksha Yadav and what does his group of 'satyagrahis' want?

Raza Naqvi | Updated on: 3 June 2016, 15:55 IST

Uttar Pradesh has been rocked by reports of the 2 June violence in Mathura during an encroachment drive - which claimed the lives of at least 21 people and injured over 40. On 3 June, UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav ordered a probe into the incident, while the police worked to control the law and order situation.

Mathura Superintendent of Police, Mukul Dwivedi, SHO Santosh Kumar Yadav, and a constable were among those killed in firing by the encroachers, while several others were injured. Over 374 people have been detained by the police so far.

News of the Mathura violence spread like wildfire. However, few know about Ram Vriksha Yadav, the man identified as the leader of the 'Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi', the group that clashed with the police personnel.

Who is Ram Vriksha Yadav?

Ram Vriksha Yadav (also spelled as Vrikasha and Vrakasha), who leads the 'satyagrahi' group, is currently facing eight legal cases - including a charge of murder and land-grabbing.

He was an ardent follower of Jai Gurudev - or Tulsidas Maharaj - a popular religious leader in northern India. After the death of Jai Gurudev in 2012, Ram Vriksha fought with the Gurudev's aides - Pankaj Yadav and Umakant Tiwari - to claim the title of successor. Despite Ram Vriksha's efforts, Panjak Yadav was picked as the new chief of Gurudev's Trust. Angry over having being snubbed, Yadav reportedly attacked the Jai Gurudev Ashram in Mathura on 17 June 2012.

According to sources, the Mathura violence is linked to Gurudev's assets - estimated to be worth over Rs 12,000 crore. Gurudev's massive and opulent ashrams are situated on the Mathura-Delhi highway and in Etawah.

What does the Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi want?

The Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi was formed in Madhya Pradeh's Sagar.

In 2014, Ram Vriksha and his 'satyagrahis' left Sagar to march towards Delhi, where they planned to stage a protest. However, after reaching Mathura in April 2014, Yadav and 5,000 of his followers occupied hundreds of acres of land of Jawahar Bagh on the pretext of 'dharna'.

Among the demands of the group are: the "cancellation" of election of President and Prime Minister of India. They also want the Rupee to be replaced with 'Azad Hind Fauj' currency and want diesel to be sold at the rate of 60 litres for one rupee and petrol at the rate of 40 litres for one rupee.

The group had been asked to vacate the land, with a 48-hour ultimatum lapsing in April. On 1 June, police went to Jawahar Bagh to vacate the land.

Members of groups named Swadheen Bharat Vidhik Satyagrahi and Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena have also been accused of being involved in the attack. However, while all three groups seem to have the same demands and have been protesting at Jawahar Bagh for the last two years, the association between the groups is unclear.

'Well-equipped' group

The police recovered arms and ammunition from the 'satyagrahis' - including automatic weapons, rifles, hand grenades and a large amount of ammunition, which they used to attack the police.

The violence erupted after the 'satyagrahis' started firing at the police with automatic weapons after positioning themselves in the trees. The area was filled with smoke from the blasts caused by hand grenades and LPG cylinders, following which several huts caught fire after. Fire tenders were called in to douse the blaze.

In this video Ram Vriksha Yadav can be seen mobilising his supporters

Not the first attack on policemen

In 2013, Yadav and his followers staged a protest in Bareilly for a 'unique' demand. They wanted the government to announce that Gurudev was alive. The group also wanted to hold a public meeting at Ramlila ground in Bareilly. After the authorities had denied the permission, the group entered the Baradari police station in Bareilly and launched a brutal attack on the police.

First published: 3 June 2016, 15:55 IST
 
Raza Naqvi @Mir_Naqvi

Raza is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) and has worked with the Hindustan Times in the past. A passionate follower of crime stories, he is currently working as a Sub-Editor at the Speed News desk.

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