Ram Vriksh Yadav, the chief of the violent encroachers in Jawahar Bagh, was among those killed in the clashes, police said on Saturday.
Yadav, 60, was the leader of Azad Bharat Vidhik Vaicharik Kranti Satyagrahi, an outfit claiming to owe allegiance to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. The outfit’s members had encroached on the area comprising the public park for two years and clashed with the police last week, leaving 29 people, including a SP and SHO of the police, dead when the dust settled.
Yadav’s body was found among 11 charred to death in the fire that was caused by gas cylinder explosions set off by the squatters during their clash with the police.
Yadav, according to news website Firstpost, was born in a “humble family” in the Rampur-Baghpur village, in the Gazipur district of Uttar Pradesh. Yadav studied up to class XII in the village school and went on to complete his graduation from a college in the adjoining Mau district, the report added.
Yadav does not seem to have owned much by way of property or assets. He had just two acres of land and a house, made of mud, in his name, according to the report.
Yadav’s first brush with political activism came during the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
According to Firstpost, Yadav was a participant in the anti-Emergency movement and was jailed for his involvement. He was issued an emergency-era political detainees pension of Rs 15,000 from the state government, the report added.
Meeting Baba Jai Guru Dev
Subsequent to his release from jail, Yadav, the report said, became a “close confidant” of Baba Jai Guru Dev.
Yadav went on to contest Assembly elections from the Zahoorabad seat in 1984 and the parliamentary elections from Gazipur in 1991, unsuccessfully both times, under the banner of Baba Jai Guru Dev’s Doordarshi Party, the report added.
Yadav’s theories and beliefs
Details regarding the strange beliefs and demands of the encroachers involved in the violent confrontation with police personnel in Mathura emerged even as the bodies were being counted.
Their demands included the cancellation of elections of the President and prime minister of India.
They also wanted the Indian currency to be replaced by the ‘Azad Hind Fauj Currency’, reported The Indian Express, and that 60 litres of petrol and 40 litres of diesel be priced at Rs 1 each.
One of their demands said that all the documents related to law and order and the documents of citizenship must be made public as it would reveal who we really are.
These demands appear to be drawn from Yadav’s works. According to the report, Yadav’s book ‘Vidhik Satyagrah’ describes a ‘financial freedom struggle’ and details the same strange demands such as banning the Indian currency.
Yadav’s political clout
The “township” that emerged in Jawahar Bagh was shielded from action by local authorities by a powerful minister of the state, the report said.
According to the report, for over two years, Yadav’s followers who were encamped at Jawahar Bagh were being provided three meals a day. This, along with the subsidised prices of commodities like sugar (sold at Rs 25 per Kg in the camp as opposed to the market price of Rs 35 per Kg) and grapes (sold at Rs 20 per Kg as opposed to the market price of Rs 60 per Kg) in the camp, could not have been possible without a “strong financier”, said the report.
The report added that Yadav would move around with armed guards.
Was the movement a ploy to safeguard Jai Guru Dev’s empire?
Citing insiders, the report said that Yadav was part of a “strategy to protect the empire of Jai Guru Dev, that was holding fort in the ashram in Mathura”.
Yadav was camping at Jawahar Bagh, which is close to two kilometres away from the ashram, as a protection force for “those holding fort at the Mathura ashram”, the report said.
According to the news website, the prevalent belief was that Baba Jai Guru Dev’s “closest lieutenant” Umakant Tiwari would take over after the Baba’s demise. However, after the Baba passed away in 2012, his onetime driver Pankaj Yadav was declared the next chief of Gurudev’s Trust, the reported added.
Interestingly, according to the report, it was in 2012 itself that Yadav held a one-day dharna in Jawahar Bagh under the banner of Swadheen Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah.