2 Sadhus and their driver lynched while police watches in Palghar, Maharashtra

In a shocking incident, 2 sadhus and their driver were lynched to death by a 200-strong mob in Palghar district of Maharashtra on Thursday night. The victims have been identified as sadhus Kalpvriksh Giri Maharaj (70) &  Sushil Giri Maharaj (35), and their driver Nilesh Telgade, residents of the Kandivali suburb of Mumbai.

The sadhus were travelling from Mumbai to Gujarat to attend the funeral of their guru Sri Mahant Ramgiri ji when their vehicle was stopped on the Dabhadi- Khanvel Road by a mob of around 200 tribals.

Police claims that the tribals suspected the saffron-clad monks and their driver to be ‘child thieves’, and started beating them up. A forest department employee informed the police and a police team reached the spot. It appears police took the 3 men into their custody and placed them in their jeep. But what happened subsequently is difficult to digest.

In extremely disturbing video footage, the elderly sadhu, already bleeding from the head, can be seen coming out of a roadside house clinging on to the arm of a policeman. A few people surround the sadhu and start raining blows on him – he desperately tries to hold on to the policeman’s arm and pleads with him, but the cop brushes him off and steps away. There are at least 5-6 other policemen seen in the footage, but none come forward to save the elderly sadhu or to try and control the mob. A group of 6-7 attackers keep raining blows on the 70-year-old sadhu till he collapses and sits on the ground. But they don’t stop and keep hitting him with sticks till he lies prone on the ground, unconscious.

Later, the mob can also be seen brutally attacking the other victims who are seated inside the police jeep.

The sadhus belonged to the revered Sri Panch Dashanam Juna Akhara (‘Akhara’ means an order of Hindu monks or sadhus). This Varanasi-centred ‘Juna Akhara’ is considered by many to be the largest and oldest order of sadhus in Bharat. It was recently in news for designating a Dalit sanyasi as “Mahamandaleshwar”, an influential position in the order.

The Juna Akhara has sent a letter to Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, alleging police inaction while the 3 victims were being brutally assaulted. They have questioned why police did not do air firing to disperse the murderous mob. They have also stated that Rs. 50,000 and temple ornaments were looted from the sadhus.

The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, apex body of 14 Akharas including the Juna Akhara, has also condemned the brutal killing and demanded strict action against those responsible. They have said they will gherao (surround) the Maharashtra government in large numbers once the lockdown is over.

As per media reports, three days before this gruesome crime, four policemen including API Anandrao Kale and a Thane based skin doctor Vishwas Salvi were injured when tribals from Saarni village in Palghar pelted stones at them ‘mistaking’ the doctor for a thief.

The Hinduphobic left-liberal response to this lynching of Hindu sadhus has been along expected lines – they have tried to downplay it as just ordinary violence and have quickly ruled out any ‘communal’ angle, unlike the cases of cow smugglers being killed where they were sure of ‘communal motive’ right from day one.

Palghar Police said they have arrested 110 people including 9 juveniles for the lynching of the 2 sadhus and their driver. An enquiry has been initiated to look into the incident.

However, many observers believe that such a brutal attack in presence of police needs a deeper probe by a national agency like CBI.

Senior IAS officer Sanjay Dixit said, “The area is a Maoist hotbed, with Lal Boutha (Laal Bawta) and possibly Church (influence), so there is definitely more to the incident than meets the eye. This is also the area which is in the forefront of attempts to derail the Bullet Train project.”

The evangelical Christian missionary mafia is active in Palghar district, and natives of the region talk about a notorious land mafia which is run by some tribals under auspices of a Communist movement called ‘Laal Bawta’.

Shubhendu Anand, a Supreme court lawyer and graduate from TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), mentioned the large number of Christian missionaries that have set up churches in the Dahanu-Palghar tribal region north of Mumbai and the equally large number of Church-funded leftist NGOs operating there.

The nexus between Communist and Christian missionary radicals with ‘secular’ political support targeting Hindus and Hindu saints has been seen in other tribal-dominated parts of the country too like Odisha, Chattisgarh and North East states. Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati ji’s brutal murder in 2008 in Kandhamal, Odisha is the most egregious and recent example of the same.

Maharashtra Government would be well advised to ensure a speedy and impartial probe into this brutal lynching which has shaken the conscience of the entire nation. The image of the bleeding elderly sadhu trying to clutch at the policeman’s arm in hope but being brushed off will remain seared in many minds.


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