Currently, we are witnessing a syndrome of dubious cults with large number of dedicated followers. From SantRampal to Ram Vriksh Yadav, we are not sure about the reasons behind the power and prowess of this individualised phenomenon. The recent incident at Mathura and the unfolding story of Ram Vriksh provide some insights in this syndrome
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey, Lucknow
The cases like Ram Vriksh Yadav are not new in India. There are so many babas that are so powerful that nobody would dare to question their spiritual, political and economic might. Even the administration follows their dictates in many cases. Eventually, the wealth and power these cult leaders grow, and soon they become catalyst to the power positions. The story of Ram VrikshaYadav is not very different.
The question is from where these cults get strength? If one can analyse the whole scenario, their strength comes from the huge blind followers that they gradually cultivate, which allow them to build a political and economic clout. Their fan following compels political leaders to take them seriously or consider them as vote banks.
‘Operation was not undertaken systematically’
The Jawahar Bagh episode in Mathura has raised some burning questions. There are questions over the police, administration, police functioning and the political pressure which crumbles it. The Uttar Pradesh police has paid a huge price in the Jawahar Bagh episode by losing the SP Mukul Dwivedi and assistant Santosh Yadav. This loss cannot be compensated. But if one approaches its preface, one witnesses the arrival of Ram Vriksh Yadav in Mathura, his occupancy of the Jawahar Bagh and the granting of its permission and the continuation for a further two and a half years. Even after the interference of the Hon High Court and serving of the interim notice in January 2016, police remained a mute spectator. There could not have been such an illegal task without the mute consent of the power centre and administration. One must witness this first that if all handlings were confined and present with the police, Superintendent of Police would not have been under such a legitimate pressure. This has also came to light that District Magistrate (DM) had informed the Home Secretary and demanded force which included 25 companies of armed forces, women regiment, and also around 1800 constables. This is a very clear tradition that the DM sends the forces estimate to the Home Secretary. Probably what would have happened is that the Superintendent of Police might not have acquired courage to ask for more forces from the senior officers. To ask for such a large number of forces means that either one is not competent enough, or one is working as if some crisis is ought to come. It implies that one may claim that he asked for more forces, which were not made available and thus a tragedy occurred. When one visited the spot, one also didn’t present any strategy or tactical operational skills. When one approached the spot in evening, was one expecting that the spot will be vacated after an appeal? Such operations usually are conducted in mornings. One finds ample time to act in the daylight. Why did one approached the mission with modern arms and many other items. This remains the significant question. This operation was perhaps not undertaken systematically. One is neither claiming that all such past operations have been a success. But yes, one must learn from the failures.
The recent case of Ram Vriksh Yadav also raises question over the state intelligence and failure of state government unable to keep an eye on illegal activities going inside state boundaries. But the bigger mystery is who was funding Ram Vriksh Yadav and his followers?
The story of Ram Vriksh Yadav is a saga of spiritual-political nexus of power-mongering Babas and land-grabbing politicians, involving organised crime with the avowed support of semi-literate middle or lower middle class innocent villagers in Northern India. This situation suits the nasty and corrupt politicians like Shivpal Yadav, who patronised the stray groups of Baba Jai Gurudev after his demise a few years back.
Tulsidas Yadav, who later to be known as Baba Jai Gurudev, was a sadhu (presumably) from Etavah having close associations with the political clan of Saifai Baba Jai Gurudev had a very high regards for Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, have a strong following. He was also arrested after protesting against the dictatorial policies of Indira Gandhi, raising voice against emergency imposed by her in the year 1975. While carrying forward his spiritual campaign, by now he had developed a sprawling ashram on the by pass road in Mathura. In the later days of his life, Baba authorised one Umakant Tiwari to give initiation to the new disciples, and Tiwari started this spiritual role. Shivpal Yadav continued his association with the Baba, projecting himself as a devotee and a close acquaintance. Shivpal had also managed to plant his crony Pankaj Yadav as baba’s personal driver.
All this went smoothly until Baba’s death. But as soon as he died, and Umakant Tiwari was all set to succeed and take over the headquarters’ ashram in Mathura, Pankaj Yadav produced a letter presumably written by Baba Jai Gurudev expressing his will that Pankaj, the driver, would look after the ashram and its activities after his death and the real story started.
There was a third angle to this infighting. Ram Vriksh Yadav, who had joined Baba Jai Gurudev, in 1972 and had even gone to jail with him during the Emergency, aspired to succeed Baba Jai Gurudev and inherit all his property. Yadav was involved in an internecine conflict with two other groups of the now deceased Baba's followers over the control of the cult's property valued over Rs 10,000 crore. The real issue seems to be about who will inherit this amassed wealth of the cult.
Tactically, he decided to stage his demonstrations at Jawahar Bagh with the tacit support from Samajwadi party leaders. And Ram Vriksh, the self-styled chieftan of his army of musclemen armed with latest armaments, began his Satyagrah on the 300 acres of land. Two-three years back, Ram Vriksh Yadav started this indefinite Satyagrah, and later that venue became his settlement with all the facilities provided by the Samajwadi Party government. They raised walls on all sides and didn’t allow anyone inside. The entry was restricted to the ID holders.
Thus the area became out of bounds for the common people and police. The so-called satyagrahis were given the facilities of electricity, water-supply, fair-price shops, sewage system, well-constructed streets and everything that an authorised colony would get. Surprisingly, all this went on smoothly and no one ever bothered.
As in several other cases, the court intervened. A PIL was filed which in due course succeeded and the apex court directed the district administration to evacuate the premises from its illegal occupants. Now the administration didn’t know how to maintain balance between the court’s order and the sweet will of their masters in the government. That is the background in which they had to proceed only half-heartedly, to fail obviously. The DM told everyone ‘We were just rehearsing’. In fact they couldn’t enact the final drama. This led to the situation where two upright police officers got killed and followers of the Baba also faced the high handed action.
We still do not know whether the self-styled leader of the ‘Azad Hind Sarkar’ is alive or dead. “There is no proof that Ram Vriksh has been killed”, says his lawyer ShashikantGautam.
The presence of latest arms and ammunitions needed to combat a full-throttled battle with the police and para-military forces and allegations of having Maoist connections are serious which needs further investigation.
BJP is not satisfied with the investigation of former Justice Imtiyaz Murtaza, and demands CBI inquiry as well as sacking of Shivpal. Its State President Keshav Prasad Maurya decides to take up the issue in forthcoming polls. He wants to focus upon the land-grabbers that have been prospering UP with the help of ruling Samajwadi Party MLAs, Ministers and their mastermind Shivpal, one of the patriarchs of Saifai.
Till the political masters can’t look beyond the petty gains of vote bank politics, the phenomena of cult leaders will continue to flourish.