In the last six and half years since BJP came into power, caste and religion-based attacks have become the highlight of the mainstream media. Everyone across the country and even on the foreign land knows about the cases where minorities were allegedly attacked for one or the other reasons. So much so, the anti-Hindu Delhi Riots of 2020 somehow became a pogrom against the Muslims, thanks to the narrative being instigated by several media houses, ‘intellectuals’ and political leaders. While any attack on people from minority or Dalit communities become international outrage instantly, several similar attacks on upper caste people, including Hindu priests, have taken place which has failed to invoke any major outrage even in India.
The attacks on Sadhus
In 2020, there have been several attacks on sadhus and priests in India over one or the other reason, but only a few, like the infamous Palghar Sadhu lynching, managed to make it to the headlines. Many attacks got buried under the pile of thousands of daily reports that the mainstream media think is more important than someone getting killed. Or, they got covered by a very small section of media houses with no follow-ups.
List of attacks on sadhus in 2020
On 16th January, Mahant Arjun Das of Balaji Temple in Chitrakoot was killed by miscreants. Police registered a case against Alok Pandey, Mangaldas, Raju Mishra and two unknown in the case. As per the reports, they attacked Mahant over a land dispute. The attackers did reiki of the area of three days before attacking Mahant. They shot him dead while his associates got injured in the attack.
On 16th April, two Sadhus associated with Juna Akhara were killed by a wild and frenzied crowd of over 100 people at Gadakchinchale village, Palghar. The victims, identified as 70-year-old Kalpavrishka Giri Maharaj and 35-year-old Sushil Giri Maharaj, along with their driver, 30-year-old Nilesh Telgadewere, were on their way from Mumbai to Gujarat to give Samadhi to another Sadhu. The villagers deemed them as thieves and started attacking them. Videos that emerged later showed how police personnel handed them over to the mob instead of saving them. They were beaten to death in the presence of the police. Later it was revealed that it was an intentional killing and was done due to political reasons. It was also suspected that Christian missionaries backed by NCP, left parties, were behind the lynching of two Hindu Sadhus. This was the only case that got some amount of national attention, mainly due to the fact that the attack was recorded on camera.
On 28th April, two priests were found murdered at Bulandshahr temple. Their bodies were mutilated and were found in temple premises. The two priests were identified as Jagdish alias Rangi Das (55) and Sher Singh alias Sewa Das (45). According to the reports, the murderer Murari alias Raju from Pagona village in Bulandshahr was caught by the two priests while stealing from the temple premises. He attacked the priests in a fit of anger using a sharp weapon and killed them. SSP Bulandshahr Santosh Kumar Singh said, “Villagers also spotted him walking out of the village with a sword in his hand. He was nabbed two kilometres out of village, in half-naked and inebriated condition.” At the time Raju got arrested, he was still intoxicated.
On 23rd May, two Sadhus were found murdered in Nanded, Maharashtra. The victims were identified as Balbrahmachari Shivacharya Maharaj guru, and Bhagwan Shinde, a disciple of Sadhu Shivacharya Maharaj. As per the reports, the bodies of the Sadhus were found near the bathroom of the house. The police report suggested that at least two accused entered the mutt to rob the place. When the Sadhus confronted them, they strangled them to death with a charging cable. The criminals looted Rs. 69,000, his laptop and other valuables from the sadhu’s bedroom totalling around Rs 1.50 lakh, along with his car keys. Police arrested one Sainath Shingade in the case.
On 23rd July, a Hindu saint was found hanging from a tree in the temple premises in Uttar Pradesh. As per the reports, 22-year-old Balayogi Satyendra Anand Saraswati Maharaj Naga Baba had come to Sultanpur from Himachal Pradesh. He was living in the Veer Baba Mandir in Chhatauna village for the last several years. The police learnt about his unnatural death and took his body into custody. The locals alleged that he was murdered and left hanging to the tree to make it look like a suicide.
On 13th July, the Hindu caretaker of Shiv Temple in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, was beaten to death after he protested against remarks on his saffron attire. As per the reports, Anas Qureshi alias Janaleva passed objectional remarks on the attire of the victim identified as Kanti Prasad while he was coming back after paying the electricity bill. When Prasad objected to the remarks Anas passed, he started beating up the priest in the middle of the road. He somehow escaped and went to Quereshi’s house to appraise his family about the incident. Anas came from behind and again beaten him mercilessly. When Prasad’s family came to know about the incident, they rushed to Qureshi’s house to rescue him. They all went to the police station to file a complaint against Anas, where Prasad’s health started deteriorating. He succumbed to his injuries the next day.
On 23rd August, Naxals kidnapped a pujari, Neeraj Jha, and killed him a week later in Bihar’s Lakhisarai. They demanded a ransom of Rs.1 crore from his family. When the body of the priest was found, it was so badly mangled that the family members couldn’t recognize him. Later, his brother Pankaj Jha recognized him from the Janeu he was wearing.
On 11th September, three priests were found murdered at Sri Arakeshwara Temple at Guttalu on the outskirts of Mandya city. Police found the dead bodies of three priests identified as Ganesh, Prakash and Anand in a pool of blood. As per the reports, their heads were crushed with boulders. The attackers robbed the temple hundi boxes and stole only cash leaving behind the coins. After the attack was reported, the police got into action and filed FIR against the culprits. Later on 15th September, all five attackers were apprehended. Police nabbed Abhijit and Raghu from Gamanahalli village and gave up the location of the other three miscreants named Viji, Manja and Gandhi.
On 8th October, six persons tried to encroach upon temple land in the Bokna village, Sapaotra division of Karauli district of Rajasthan. When a 50-year-old temple priest named Babulal Vaishnav attempted to stop them, they poured petrol over him and set him on fire. He was admitted to the SMS Hospital in Jaipur in a critical condition. On the 9th morning, he succumbed to his injuries.
On 10th October, a priest of Ram Janki Temple in Tirre Manorama village of Etiathok police station area, Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, was shot. As per the police, the miscreants shot him over the years old land dispute. He is undergoing treatment in Lucknow trauma center. The reports suggested that Samrat Das, the priest of Ram Janaki temple, had a dispute over land ownership with the land mafia. They had attacked him last year as well. Police have registered FIR against four miscreants and started an investigation. The dispute between the two parties is over 25 acres of land (100 bighas) that belong to the temple. Superintendent of Police Shailesh Kumar Pandey said in a statement that the police had arrested two people, and the search for the other two was still on.