By SHIKHA SALARIA / The Print
Lucknow: Campaigns to ban meat sale during a Hindu religious procession in Ayodhya — in areas through which it passes — and issuing death threats to alleged “anti-nationals and heretics”, these seem to have been some of the social media activities of Mahesh Mishra, main accused and alleged mastermind behind the throwing of objectionable items outside four mosques and a dargah in Ayodhya, on the intervening night of 26-27 April. According to police, the idea was “to spread riots”.
Mishra’s social media profile also identifies him as chief of the less-than-five-year-old Hindutva outfit, Hindu Yodha Sangathan (HYS) and he has been introduced as a Bajrang Dal leader in videos available online.
Mishra was among the seven people — all HYS members — who were arrested by police Thursday for allegedly throwing pages torn from religious books, abusive letters and pork outside the Muslim religious places. Four others accused in the are are absconding, said police.
The accused have been booked under sections 295, 295 (A), 304, 305 and 307 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“Eight accused were present on the spot, while the others who aided in planning have been booked too,” Ayodhya Superintendent of Police (City) Vijaypal Singh told ThePrint, adding that the intention of the accused had been to “disturb peace”.
While Mishra has been introduced as a Bajrang Dal leader on videos available online, and his brother, Vishal, has been quoted in the media as saying that he is a full-time Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member, who has also served as district convener of the Bajrang Dal and been an office bearer of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Singh said police is still investigating details.
A source in the police claimed, however, that Mishra had been expelled from the Bajrang Dal in 2015.
ThePrint also spoke to Bajrang Dal Awadh region co-convener B.D. Mahesh, who said that while Mishra “might have held some post in the past, but for the past seven-eight years he has not been associated with the Bajrang Dal. May be they would have felt they will get help by taking name of Bajrang Dal.”
Taking about Mishra’s HYS outfit, Mahesh said: “We don’t have much information about their outfit. If they do some good work, we acclaim them.”
Meanwhile, Vijay Shanker Tiwari, national spokesperson, VHP told ThePrint, “I think that such people (a reference to Mishra) have a sick mentality, and strict action should be taken against them. I strongly condemn such people as national spokesperson.”
Talking about Mishra’s alleged Bajrang Dal, VHP and RSS association, Tiwari added: “Just by wearing clothes pertaining to a particular ideology (a reference to the RSS uniform), you don’t become part of RSS-VHP pariwar (family). That only happens when you follow its ideology. Such mentally sick people have no space in Hindutva pariwar.”
‘Hindu is awake’
In a video uploaded on his Youtube channel — Mahesh Mishra Hindu Yodha Sangathan — on 1 December, 2018, Mishra is introduced by a reporter as a Bajrang Dal member.
The video is of a debate on the Ayodhya issue on a Hindi news channel, in which Mishra is shown as a participant. During the debate, he touches upon the alleged “exodus of Hindus from Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir”.
ThePrint also checked Mishra’s Facebook profile, but found it to be currently locked.
In one of the videos uploaded on his Twitter account on 24 September last year, however, Mishra is seen issuing a string of threats, including of death, against alleged “anti-nationals, heretics” and said “Hindu is awake now”. The video also abuses the alleged “anti-nationals”. The video clarified, however, “I am not saying this for everyone, but those who are anti-nationals”.
In another video on the microblogging site, Mishra asks people (purportedly Hindus) to not engage in trade with Muslims, alleging it is used to fund “terrorists”.
Pamphlets uploaded by him on Twitter see him calling out to the BJP to implement Presidential rule in West Bengal and urging for a movement against Congress leader Pankaj Punia for his alleged comments against Hindutva leaders and members.
Campaigns for meat sale ban
Mishra’s HYS outfit had also led several campaigns in Ayodhya last year, for stopping sale of meat when the 14 Kosi parikrama, a religious walk by devotees around the Ayodhya, is taken out.
In December 2021, Mishra led a procession from Chowk Ghantaghar in Faizabad to Fatehganj, and distributed pamphlets demanding support from locals in their effort.
A similar procession was also taken out by Mahesh’s outfit in Ayodhya’s Shankargarh market the same month. According to a local news report, when they didn’t receive support from locals, they forcefully shut the shops in the area.
The report also quoted Mishra as saying that they had given a memorandum to the district magistrate to ban the sale of meat and slaughterhouses in areas through which the parikrama would pass.
This article first appeared on theprint.in