Dhananjay Desai, the chief of Hindu Rashtra Sena who was arrested on Tuesday, has been in news as much for his radical speeches as his outfit’s attacks targeting media organisations.
Desai, according to the police, is a history-sheeter, named in 23 cases of extortion, rioting and other crimes. It is likely that he will be questioned regarding the murder of 24-year-old IT professional Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh in Hadapsar on Monday.
Earlier, Desai was questioned by the crime branch in connection with the murder of anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
Formed about a decade ago by Desai, who hails from Mumbai and currently stays at Paud in Pune district, the HRS is known for its aggressive agitations on Hindutva issues. On several occasions Desai has shared stage with right-wing leaders like Pramod Muthalik of Shri Ram Sene and Himani Savarkar of Abhinav Bharat. He was chief guest at a function to release a book by Sanatan Sanstha activist Vikram Bhave, who is a convict in the Thane blast case.
Desai’s outfit was involved in the attack on Star News office at Mumbai in April 2007 for telecasting a news item on a Hindu girl falling in love with a Muslim youth.
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Last September, the HRS was in news for its plan to hurl a footwear at actor Sanjay Dutt during a cultural programme organised by the Prisons department at Balgandharva auditorium here. The programme was cancelled, but the HRS created a ruckus at the spot following which an offence was registered at the Deccan police station. HRS activists had earlier been booked for staging protests outside Dutt’s Mumbai residence in May 2013, claiming that he was being given VIP treatment in jail.
The HRS had also taken an aggressive stand in support of Lt Col Prasad Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya and others arrested in the Malegaon blast case.
According to the police, Desai is always accompanied by bodyguards. He is known for his radical speeches and is reportedly popular among a section of youth who are said to copy even his hairstyle. A Hindu activist close to Desai said that the HRS chief was like “Robin Hood” who looted the wealthy and used the money for the cause of Hinduism. A senior police officer, however, alleged that Desai gets funds for his outfit through extortion.