MATHURA/NEW DELHI: In April 2014, Ram Vriksha Yadav, a small, greying man in dhotiand-kurta, took over a park in Mathura with around 500 armed followers for a two-day protest.
But members of the Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah – and its armed wing Subhash Sena – never left, turning the public space into what appeared to be the headquarters of a self-styled revolutionary group. The local people called them Naxalites.
Little was known about the group until Thursday when police clashed with thousands of its followers, trying to clear out some 3,000 squatters on court orders. The violence left 24 people dead.
As police piece together information, what emerged is a picture of a rag-tag organisation coalesced around a cult of independence hero Subhas Chandra Bose with a warped view of the world.
With ‘Jai Hind, Jai Subhash’ as their motto, Yadav appears to have forged a militant outfit that sought to indoctrinate and give arms training to local teenagers, seeking to replace the present-day political system with their own vision of a Bose-inspired world. The group is said to also have links with smaller organisations such as the Azad Bharat Vividh Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi.
GROWING KITCHEN GARDENS, BUILDING TOILETS
For two years, Jawahar Bagh was their home and locals said mornings began with messages on loud speakers from inside the park.
“Those men shouted Azad Hindustan and cursed the government. They talked about a different country where one rupee would fetch 60 litres of diesel and 40 litres of petrol. We used to laugh,” said a local resident.
They grew vegetables – mostly potatoes — inside the park. No one, not even police, was allowed inside. For every 10-15 shanties, the group built toilets. They used tractors, which carried rice and other goods for the families. When HT visited the park a day after the violence, burnt cylinders, unwashed utensils and torn clothes were everywhere.
Not much is known about Yadav, except that his organisation emerged from among followers of
BIZARRE CLAIMS AND DEMANDS
a powerful religious figure, Jai Gurudev, who died four years ago.
He is seen in undated photographs flanked by gun-carrying followers; at press conferences with local journalists; holding rallies of supporters. He is also said to have contested elections for the Lok Sabha and lost. The group demands the cancellation of the election of various members of government. They want the axing of the position of prime minister and president because the parliamentary system is seen by them as a handme-down from the British colonial rulers.
In a poster, the group demanded to know the nationality of the president and said the president was a foreign national.
But their biggest demand seemed to be replacement of the Indian currency. A message on a wall of the Juvenile Justice Board’s office read– ‘Azad Hind currency ab mere desh mein chalengay.’ (Azad Hind currency will now be used in my country)
The walls of the nearby sessions court and the local Civil Lines police station are littered, mostly in red, with demands and messages such as “You will use the currency of Free Bharat else leave Bharat’. Another message outside the Tehsildar’s office read, “Jai Subhash Bolo”. (With inputs from Hemendra Chaturvedi and Sudhir Kumar)