MATHURA: The Jawahar Bagh incident that claimed 29 lives may have been the fallout of a succession war in the cult that had made this public park in Mathura their home for two years.
The death of Jai Gurudev, the man who led this cult devoted to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, on May 18, 2012 led to a battle among his disciples for control of his 250 ashrams, charitable trusts and property worth crores.
Thirteen days after his death, Pankaj Yadav — a 28-year-old law graduate who served as his driver — took control of the Jai Gurudev Trust in the city. “The guru directed him to spread his teachings after his death,” said Yadav’s father Charan Singh.
But Umakant Tiwari, another disciple, accused Yadav of grabbing the trust illegally.
“Babaji (Gurudev) declared Tiwari his successor at a meeting in Unnao in 2007. Tiwari, now known as Umakant Baba, shifted base to Ujjain in MP to avoid clashes. He set up a different organisation,Jai Gurudev Dharam Vikas Sanstha,” said one of his supporters, speaking to HT from Ujjain. “We do not believe in violence.”
Rampratap, a supporter of Tiwari, moved the Allahabad high court in 2013 challenging Yadav’s election as president of the trust. After a legal battle that lasted over a year and went all the way to the Supreme Court, the verdict was in favour of Yadav.
VP Srivastava, a supporter of Yadav, claimed the Tiwari camp filed a writ petition in a district court, but this too was dismissed.
The fight is said to have taken on a violent turn with the entry of a third disciple — Ramvriksh Yadav, head of the Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah that had encroached on Jaw ah ar Bagh.
Charan Yadav said Ramvriksh was never a disciple of Gurudev. But others point to the fact that Ramvriksh contested the general elections in 1980 from Ghazipur as a candidate of the Doordarshi Party — floated by Gurudev — but lost.
Sources said Ramvriksh joined the Jai Gurudev Dharm Pracharak organisation but was expelled in 2006 because of his violent behaviour. He returned with his followers in 2011 and created a ruckus at the trust’ s petrol pump, demanding 40 litres of petrol for Rs 1. “He attacked a man and a case was registered. He was out on bail 15 days later,” said Charan Singh.
Ramvriksh next surfaced in 2014 when he and his followers lay siege to Jawahar Bagh, setting up a colony there. A court-ordered evacuation last week led to a violent clash between settlers and police that left 29 people dead—including Ramvriks hand two police officers.
Locals claimed Ramvriksh wanted to grab the trust property but failed, and set his sights on Jawahar Bagh to challenge Pankaj Yadav’s clout.