Ram Vriksh Yadav, the head of the cult outfit Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah, had such sway over his followers that continued to live in camps in Jawahar Bagh in Mathura despite being served “namak and roti (salt and chapati)” and “khichdi”, alternately as lunch and dinner.
The alleged mastermind of the violence on June 2 during police action to evict the squatters, Ram Vriksh had told his followers, who had illegally encroached the public park that police “can never attack” the camp as “they cannot use arms against women and children”. The followers who expressed desire to leave the camp for their native homes fearing action from the local administration, were “motivated to stay back” and told how they can “attack the police” if they ever raided Jawahar Bagh.
These are some of the details that Ram Vriksh’s close associate Chandan Bose, who was arrested along with his wife from Basti district Wednesday, revealed during the police interrogation.
Bose and his wife were produced in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Thursday, which sent them to 14 days judicial custody. The couple had been on the run after the violence on June 2 saw 29 people, including two police officers and, reportedly, Ram Vriksh, dead.
SSP Mathura, Babloo Kumar told The Indian Express that during preliminary interrogation Bose divulged crucial information about the functioning of the camp in the Jawahar Bagh. Bose, who is said to be the second-in-command in the cult outfit, told the police how the followers were assigned different duties in the camp based on the their educational and personal skills.
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“A quack from Buxar, who was also a follower of Jai Gurudev, acted as the doctor in the camp while Bose was handling finances and ration. Those who were skilled in handling arms, used to give shooting training inside the camp while those who had studied management and law were dealing with their respective sections of fund management and legal issues,” the SSP said quoting Bose.
According to police, Bose told them that there were some 2,500 people living in the camp till June 2, the day when police moved in to evict the area. There used to be a head count of the members every night before they went to bed, Bose told the police.
Ram Vriksh used to collect funds to run the camp from the inmates even as many of the “rich followers” of Jai Gurudev used to donate lakhs of rupees.
“Bose recalled that recently some from Deoria district donated Rs 10 lakh. But, such big donations came only once in a while. Ram Vriksh used to issue receipts against the donations too,” the SSP said.
Bose also told the police that those living in the camp were “urged” to go to their native villages during harvest season and bring back “maximum donation” of foodgrains. “The villagers used to come back with trucks loaded with wheat, rice and sugarcane,” the SSP said.
The modus operadi of collecting funds was reportedly copied from the Jai Gurudev Trust in Mathura and Pithora.
Bose accepted that people in the camp had laptops, mobiles and guns. He, however, could not reveal from where the arms were procured saying that he “wasn’t in charge of that section”.
The SSP said that based on Bose’s interrogation, they now have several leads, which will help them in carrying out the probe.
Accused of inciting the violence on June 2, Bose told police that he was a native of West Bengal and had shifted to Ludhiana about 20 years ago. He ran a small garment business and claimed to have came in contact with Ram Vriksh during the latter’s visit to Ludhiana a few years ago, police said.