By ADITYA MENON
On 26 October, The Quint had reported that one of the reasons behind Yati Narsinghanand’s appointment as Mahamandaleshwar of the Juna Akhara was a plan by Hindutva outfits to counter what they allege to be “rising Muslim numbers” in Uttarakhand, especially Haridwar district.
The recent Dharam Sansad organised by Narsinghanand and the hate speeches made in it, need to be seen in the context of this Hindutva mission in Haridwar.
One of the speakers at the Dharam Sansad needs particular attention—Swami Sagar Sindhuraj.
During the Dharam Sansad, Sindhuraj called upon Hindus to arm themselves and said that Muslims should be “killed and chased away like what happened in Myanmar”.
It turns out that Sagar Sindhuraj is with the BJP and a ticket aspirant for the upcoming elections in Uttarakhand. He is also a case in point of the churn within the Hindutva ecosystem in Uttarakhand and the centrality of Haridwar in their project. This story will look at both these aspects.
But first, what did Sindhuraj say at the Dharam Sansad?
‘IF YOU ACCEPT HINDUISM, YOUR LIVES CAN BE SPARED’
Here are some excerpts from Sindhuraj’s speech at the Dharam Sansad shared by fact-checker Mohammad Zubair:
“After you go out from here, a message should be sent among people that if you accept Hinduism, your lives can be spared. Otherwise these people can kill us (Muslims) and chase us away like what happened in Myanmar. We have to establish a Hindu Rashtra.”
“Who is stopping you from having 10 children? If you can’t take care of them, don’t worry. You give birth, we’ll take care of them. We have to function under whatever political system is prevalent. We worked under monarchy. And now we’ll work as part of democracy. And in democracy, power belongs to those who have numbers.”
“Even a Rs 5000 mobile will do but you should have a weapon worth Rs 1 lakh. You should always have swords and lathis at home so that if someone comes, they don’t come out alive.”
WHO IS SAGAR SINDHURAJ?
Sagar Sindhuraj is the chairman of the Shri Krishna Pranami Kalyan Ashram at Uttarakhand’s Devprayag and founder of the Shri Krishna Pranami Gau Seva Dham in Roorkee. According to his own Facebook page, he is trying to secure a BJP ticket from the Khanpur constituency in Haridwar district.
On 16 December, he put up a picture of himself with former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat with the caption, “I met former Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Rawat ji and other senior BJP leaders and presented my claim to contest from the Khanpur Assembly constituency.”
Sindhuraj’s desire to contest from Khanpur is symptomatic of a broader assertion of Hindutva outfits in Uttarakhand in general and with respect to the BJP in particular.
His claim is interesting because the seat has a sitting BJP MLA—Kunwar Pranav Singh Champion—who has been undefeated from the seat since the formation of Uttarakhand. Khanpur constituency came into being in 2012 after the delimitation process. Many of the areas in the present seat were earlier in Laksar.
Pranav Singh won from Laksar in 2002 as an Independent and 2007 on a Congress ticket. He won Khanpur on a Congress ticket in 2012 and again on a BJP ticket in 2017.
Singh is a royal from the Gujjar Landhaura Riyasat in the area. Hindutva activists in the area consider him as bit of a maverick and not “ideologically committed enough to the Hindutva cause”. They also keep saying that he can “jump ship and go back to the Congress any time”.
There’s a push for a more hardline candidate from Khanpur and this is where Sindhuraj comes in.
HINDUTVA MISSION IN HARIDWAR
Many Hindutva outfits consider Haridwar district as a battleground in their effort to counter what they call “rising Muslim influence in Uttarakhand”.
There’s no proof to back this threat of “Muslim influence” and it mainly seems to stem from the fact that Muslims account for over 30 percent of the population in Haridwar district.
Laksar, which included many parts of the present Khanpur seat, elected a Muslim MLA five out of seven times between 1967 and 1989.
Dalits and Muslims together account for over 50 percent of the population in the seat and the BSP has significant influence in the area because of this.
It remains to be seen whether the hate speech controversy improves or harms Sindhuraj’s chances of getting a BJP ticket from the seat. It also remains to be seen whether the police takes action against him or not, given his connections with the ruling party in the state.
Irrespective of whether he gets to contest or not, it is clear that Hindutva outfits’ mission to counter Muslims in Haridwar is only going to intensify in the months to come.
This story first appeared on thequint.com