From a small unit limited to Vile Parle area of Mumbai, the Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) has grown into a radical Hindu outfit in Maharashtra. Its leader, Dhananjay Desai alias Bhai, 34, is reported to wield strong influence among the youth, particularly in the suburbs of Pune, parts of Mumbai and some districts across the state.
Police records show Desai has been named in 23 cases ranging from firearms recovery to extortion and rioting. He was among those questioned in the murder of anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar. Desai is currently in police custody for allegedly distributing pamphlets with objectionable content.
Despite the past cases, the state authorities seem to be taking serious note of the HRS only now, after a Muslim techie, Mohsin Sadiq Shaikh, 28, was allegedly murdered by its activists. While 17 HRS activists have been arrested in the case so far, none of them have a criminal record.
The Pune police have started compiling a dossier on the HRS with the “criminal records” of Desai and its other members. This is being considered a first step towards proposing a ban on the organisation. Asked if a ban was being proposed, Pune Police Commissioner Satish Mathur said, “It is not a one-day process. We are working in that direction. Documents about HRS activities are being collected.”
Police sources said Desai is known to be a rabble-rouser whose aim is to draw the youth, particularly from rural areas and slums, to the radical Hindutva ideology.
“A graduate from Tilak College in Mumbai, Desai was inclined towards Hindutva ideology since his childhood,” said Yogesh Kupekar, who supervises the HRS office in Mumbai. “Bhai was influenced by the Shiv Sena in the 1980s. But he wanted to form his own group and work for the cause of Hindutva. So he started working in the name of Hindu Rashtra Sena when he was only 14 years old,” he said.
“Bhai was a teenager when he took an open stand against the Muslim mafia who carried out the 1992 Mumbai blasts. The youth got attracted to him due to his fiery speeches and aggressive protests. He soon developed a strong base in Pune and other parts of the state. Bhai got the blessings of Bal Thackeray and many Hindu sants for his dedicated work for Hindutva,” said Kupekar.
“However, we found that no political parties, including the BJP, were taking a stand on Hindutva issues. So in 2007, we got the HRS registered as a political party,” he said.
The HRS, however, is yet to contest any election. “We supported the BJP-Shiv Sena-RPI (Athavale) alliance (in the Lok Sabha polls). We did not field any candidate as it would have divided the Hindu vote bank. But Bhai held about 100 rallies across the state to campaign for the Shiv Sena, BJP candidates who later emerged victorious, “ said Kupekar.
The HRS website, which has pictures continued…