A priest of a renowned Hanuman temple in Muzaffarnagar got an FIR lodged against workers of Dalit outfit Valmiki Kranti Dal Wednesday, a day after the latter allegedly took over the premises, manhandled the complainant and forced him to leave.
Meanwhile, members of the Rashtriya Brahmin Mahasangh and Rashtriya Parashuram Sena (Brahm Vahini) met senior police officers and requested for adequate security at all 500 temples in the district to maintain peace.
The case against Valmiki Kranti Dal workers was lodged at City Kotwali police station under IPC sections 352 (assault or criminal force otherwise than on grave provocation), 296 (disturbing religious assembly) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace). Police personnel have been deployed at the temple as precaution.
Station House Officer (SHO) of City Kotwali police station Anil Kaparwan said, “We rushed to the Hanuman temple after being informed about trouble there and found workers of Valmiki Kranti Dal conducting rituals of the priest. They were taken out of the temple and later let off. No one was taken into custody.”
He added, “Temple priest Sachidanand alleged that Kranti Dal workers forcibly entered the temple, misbehaved and hurled abuses at him.”
Muzaffarnagar district president of Valmiki Kranti Dal, Deepak Gambhir, said, “On Tuesday, we went to the Hanuman temple at Chowk and took over control of the temple administration because a few days ago, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had stated in Rajasthan that Hanuman was a Dalit. Therefore, we decided that Dalits should have the control on all Hanuman temples in the district. We did not misbehave with the priest and after offering prayers, we returned.”
On ground, Hanuman controversy is adding fuel to fire
Yogi Adityanath's recent statement calling Hindu god Hanuman a Dalit at an election rally has prompted the Opposition to accuse him of caste politics, and BJP defending him by claiming that the chief minister didn't mean it literally. With the Muzaffarnagar incident, it is evident that the repercussions of this controversy have made their way to ground level, where the situation is already precarious in terms of caste-based clashes. One example of this is the clashes that took place in Saharanpur district last year, triggered when a Dalit group objected to a procession by Thakurs to mark the birth anniversary of Rajput king Maharana Pratap. A 35-year-old man was killed, 16 persons were seriously injured and at least 25 houses torched in the violence.
He further claimed, “We had earlier announced that we would visit Balaji Dham temple in Nai Mandi area and take over the administration as well. But we postponed our programme following the incident of death of a police officer in Bulandshar.”
Meanwhile, Saharanpur mandal president of the Rashtriya Parashuram Sena (Brahm Vahini), Rahul Sharma, told The Indian Express, “We came to know about the incident an hour later. We rushed to the temple, but by then everything was over. We were informed that Kranti Dal workers had forced the priest to leave the temple.”
“Brahmins in Muzaffarnagar are upset since after Yogi Adityanath said Hanuman was a Dalit. We are keeping watch on all temples in the district to ensure that such incident does not take place again,” said Sharma.
In-charge of Rashtriya Brahmin Mahasangh’s Saharanpur unit, Subodh Sharma, told Express, “Today, we (along with Rahul Sharma and his outfit members) met the Muzaffarnagar district magistrate and submitted a memorandum demanding adequate security for all 500 temples in the district. We also met the in-charge of City Kotwali police station regarding the FIR lodged.”
Additional District Magistrate, Muzaffarnagar, Alok Kumar, confirmed the same.
A few days ago, groups of Dalit outfits had reached two prominent Hanuman temples at Hazratganj and Aliganj and attempted to take control of the administration. Police had to intervene to remove them all.