With Shringi Yadav's Bail, Is UP Heading Towards Normalising Hindutva Violence?

A violent bigot who got himself recorded seriously assaulting and injuring a child, simply because he's a Muslim, is now again at liberty to flaunt his violence on social media.

Shringi Nandan Yadav, the man who assaulted a thirsty Muslim child in the precincts of the Shiv Shakti Dham Temple in Dasna, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, for drinking water in the temple, is now out on bail.

The Uttar Pradesh Police, which had in any case refused to enter the necessary non-bailable sections of the IPC on the arrest memo, clearly also did not find it necessary to oppose the bail application. And so, a violent bigot who got himself recorded seriously assaulting and injuring a child, simply because that child happened to be Muslim, and who then proudly uploaded and circulated the video of his assault on his social media handles, is now again at liberty to flaunt his violence and intimidate the child he had earlier attacked. Well, that is Uttar Pradesh, as administered by Ajay Singh Bisht.

Shringi Nandan Yadav, a follower of Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, the ‘Mahant’ of the Shiv Shakti Dham Temple at Dasna, is somewhat of a serial offender. He has even earlier uploaded a video that records him attacking a young Muslim man he holds captive. In that video he can be seen intimidating the captive Muslim man with a deadly knife.

Having come out on bail, Shringi Nandan Yadav is now giving ‘interviews’ in which he claims that he was only trying to stop the child from ‘defiling’ the sanctity of the temple by deliberately urinating on a Shivling. I have seen one such interview, on the ‘Cyber Sipahi’ YouTube channel. I have also seen the video in which the child  recounts what happened. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Shringi Nandan Yadav is lying. His lies amount to a disgusting attempt at the character assassination of a child.

Also read: Behind the Social Media Face of a Violent Hindutva Activist Lies an Entire Ecosystem of Hate

Shringi Nandan Yadav’s mentor, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, whose role in stoking the violence that shook North East Delhi last year is well documented, also spoke at a press conference recently where he commended his disciple for supposedly defending the sanctity of the Dasna temple from the defiling presence of the Muslim child. He said during the press conference that the only mistake that Shringi and his associate made at the time was to have ‘recorded the video’ that is now being held against them.

Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati talking about ‘love jihad’. Photo: Screengrab from Facebook

The social media channels such as Cyber Sipahi and Sudarshan News that are allied to the violent Hindutva network that has the Shiv Shakti Dham temple at Dasna as its hub, and Deepak Tyagi aka Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, as its mentor, have gone into an overdrive, insisting that the boy was sent into the temple as part of a pre-planned ‘conspiracy’ hatched by The Wire and ‘leftists’ to ‘humiliate Hindus’.

The claim that the child defiled the temple precincts by ‘urinating’ on a Shivling are buttressed by the circulation of a three-year-old video (from April 2018) of an incident of a boy urinating in a Hindu place of worship that took place in Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. This has been demonstrated by rigorous fact checking undertaken by Alt News.

Before the Hindutva propaganda networks hit upon the idea of using the old Andhra video, the story put out by a priest of the Dasna temple was that the boy whom Shringi Nandan Yadav assaulted had come to steal.

Clearly, Shringi Nandan Yadav’s retrospective justification of the violence he unleashed on a child, and the ‘coincidental’ amplification of the old urination video by BJP leader Kapil Mishra (known for his public proximity to Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati) and editor of the Swarajya portal Swati Goel Sharma, have helped Hindutva social media’s attempt to pass off this three-year-old video as a record of the recent incident at Dasna.

We haven’t seen the end of this.

A visible pattern

Clearly, there is a pattern. The Hindu Shiv Shakti Dham, it’s figurehead, Yati Narsinghanand Saraswati, his informal militia, that includes a cohort of young men such as Shringi Yadav, Deepak ‘Hindu’ and Anil Yadav (also known as ‘chote’ (junior) Narsinghanand) who are desperate to become Hindutva social media celebrities, and a clutch of incendiary women enablers of hate such as Yati Ma, Aastha Ma and Ragini Tiwari are putting into place and beginning to practice a well-calibrated strategy. That strategy involves triggering attacks on vulnerable Muslims on random excuses, circulating news of these attacks, brazenly facing token action by the police and administration that handles them with kid gloves, and retrospectively presenting themselves as victims of what they call ‘jihadist terror’ (which is their preferred mode of indicating the mere presence of Muslims) and a ‘leftist’ conspiracy.

The logic of this strategy requires the serial staging of brazen attacks and the putting out of justifications along an escalating scale of absurdity. The more outrageous the claim, the more currency it gets. This is the logic by which the ground is prepared for a full scale conversion to terrorism as a normal practice. We have seen exactly this procedure being used by terrorists and their mentors in Pakistan and Afghanistan to deadly effect.

Also read: Watch: What Does It Mean To Be Muslim in India?

The Shiv Shakti Dham in Dasna is currently recruiting ‘trainees’ for a two-year intensive course for people looking to become volunteers for what it calls the ‘Hindu Cause’. Anyone who has paid attention to the attempts to publicise this course on say, a channel like Cyber Sipahi will be able to read between the lines of what is said. What is hinted quite clearly is training in how to use weapons effectively. The Dasna Shiv Shakti Dham is a powder keg waiting and asking to be ignited.

Immediately, however, we have to recognise that a child has been badly harmed by a man who flaunts his extremist Hindutva credentials openly. We have to recognise also that he has been let go of by the Uttar Pradesh Police and that he is back to peddling hatred and spreading lies about his victim.

Immediately, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the Uttar Pradesh Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (UP-CPCR) need to provide answers about what steps, if any, they have taken to ensure that the child who was assaulted gets the justice that is due to him. Let us not forget that it is this same NCPCR that went to town with its ‘concern’ about the presence of children in the anti-CAA protests last year.

The NCPCR and the UP-CPCR also need to tell us what steps they are contemplating to ensure that the Shiv-Shakti Temple in Dasna does not encourage further instances of child abuse. Assaulting a child, and then lying about the child in the media to retrospectively justify the assault, are instances of child abuse, in my opinion.

Note: The story has been edited to explain add links to Kapil Mishra and Swati Goel’s tweets about the three year old urination incident which came in the wake of Shringi Yadav’s claims about what happened in Dasna.