“Elders in the family have told us that my father had a passion to fight for Hindus since his school days,” said 22-year-old Satyam, the eldest son of Kamlesh Tiwari, the former working president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha who was murdered on October 18.
While Tiwari was an appellant on behalf of the organisation in the Ayodhya case before the Supreme Court, he first hit headlines when he made an objectionable remark against the Prophet in 2015, triggering protests. He was subsequently arrested. Police invoked National Security Act (NSA) against him which was later quashed by the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court.
“The statement by my father was in response to a comment by then UP cabinet minister Azam Khan on the RSS. No action was then taken against Azam Khan,” said Satyam, a law student.
According to his family, Tiwari, a graduate, first raised Hindutva-related issues in his native village Mahmoodabad in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh. He then joined Bajrang Dal, but left it a few years later following differences with other workers, they said.
In 1992, Tiwari formed Hindu Tiger Force with youths of Sitapur, the family members said. Five years later, he dissolved Hindu Tiger Force and joined Bajrang Dal again, they added. He left Bajrang Dal after two years and joined Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha as chief general secretary of the state unit in 1999, said his family members.
Soon after, Tiwari shifted to Lucknow with his wife Kiran and sons Rishi and Mridul. Rishi, now 17, is a student of Class XII and Mridul (13) studies in Class VIII. Satyam stays in Sitapur with his grandfather Devaki Nandan and grandmother Kusum. In Lucknow, Tiwari had been staying on the first floor of the Mahasabha office at Khurshed Bagh colony. The building is owned by Mahasabha. Kiran Tiwari was then state president of the Hindu Mahila Sabha.
“My father fought for Hindus his whole life. To meet financial crisis, he frequently sold off ancestral property in Sitapur. In the last few years, he had sold around two bighas of land,” said Satyam, adding that the family depends on agriculture. Three years ago, Tiwari formed the Hindu Samaj Party and made his Lucknow residence its headquarters.
UP Police claims that Tiwari’s murder was a fallout of the objectionable comment he made in 2015. His mother Kusum, however, has pointed to a temple land dispute with a local BJP leader. Satyam, however, ruled out the involvement of the BJP leader in the murder. “The temple land dispute is pending in court. My grandmother took Gupta’s name out of anger. I am sure the BJP leader is not involved in the murder,” he said.
Satyam demanded a probe by NIA to unearth the “conspiracy behind the murder”. He also demanded a probe into why Tiwari’s security was downgraded.
In 2012, Tiwari sat on a 13-day hunger strike after a temple was demolished by a private builder in Paper Mill Colony in Lucknow. He was hospitalised after his condition got deteriorated. Following his protest, another temple was built nearby, said an associate of Tiwari. Tiwari unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Assembly election from Lucknow Central on Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha ticket.
In August 2015, police detained Kamlesh when he was on his way to Varanasi to take part in Jalabhishek at Shringar Gauri, a religious place near Gyanvapi Masjid and Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. The same year, police held him for reportedly attempting to hold a function to lay the foundation of a ‘Godse temple’ in Meerut.