Who was Ram Vriksh Yadav? Uncovering the mastermind behind Mathura clashes

First Post, India/June 4, 2016

By Vivek Awasthi

A man who lived in a world of his own, with a strong belief in self-propounded theories and a hardcore conviction that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Baba Jai Gurudev were still alive.

This man was Ram Vriksh Yadav, the one held responsible for the violence in Mathura that led to the death of 24 persons, including two police officers.

The mastermind and cult leader that triggered the violent stand-off is now confirmed to have died in the clashes that occurred on Thursday. According to a report in NDTV, he was among the several bodies that could not be confirmed till late Saturday evening, as many of them were charred beyond recognition.

Ram Vriksh was the self-styled leader of Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah (SBVS), a movement that has made ludicrous demands in the past on behalf of all Indians – 60 litres of diesel for a rupee, 40 litres of petrol for a rupee, 12 tolas of gold for a rupee, and the abolishing of the Indian currency. Another such strong demand by Yadav was to replace the Indian currency with coins bearing the image of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Born in a humble family of the Rampur-Baghpur village, which falls under Marda police station in Gazipur district of Uttar Pradesh, Ram Vriksh Yadav studied up to class XII in the village school. He went on to complete his graduation from a college in the adjoining Mau district.

Yadav owned just two acres of land in his village, which he did not attend to, and is now being ploughed by local villagers. His small dilapidated house made of mud, lies neglected and locked now.

He joined the anti-emergency movement and landed up in jail along with two of his co-villagers – Sudama Yadav and Deena. All three were later issued an emergency-era political detainees pension of Rs 15,000 per person from the state government.

On being released from jail, he became a close confidant of Baba Jai Guru Dev, around the time when Baba founded his political outfit, the Doordarshi Party. Later, he even contested Assembly elections from the Zahoorabad seat in 1984, and again unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary elections from Gazipur in 1991. Both times, he contested under the banner of Baba Jai Guru Dev's Doordarshi Party, which used the 'rising sun' as its election symbol.

Yadav also authored a book titled 'Vidhik Satyagrah', in which he discussed a term he described as 'Financial Freedom Struggle'. He dwells on strange theories like banning the Indian currency, changes in the Indian constitution for the selection process of the President and the Prime Minister etc.

It seems that he had taken cues from the theories of Nathan Rosche Pound, a distinguished American legal scholar of the 20th century. But Yadav quickly lost the plot, and ended up publishing a book which was far from the ground realities and closer to 'Yadav and his wonderland'. His SBVS even boasts of a YouTube channel.

He left behind his wife, two sons and two daughters. But only two of his children had lived with him – elder daughter is married and living with her husband, one son is living away from the family. It was in early 2012, when the Akhilesh Yadav government was installed in Uttar Pradesh, that Yadav moved to Agra from an ashram of Jai Guru Dev, somewhere in Madhya Pradesh.

It was also in 2012, when under the banner of Swadheen Bharat Vidhik Satyagrah, that Yadav held a one day dharna at the Jawahr Bagh in Mathura demanding, apart from other things, cancellation of the appointment of the president and the prime ministerial elections in India, and replacing the existing currency with that of the ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

But after the dharna was over, Yadav did not move from the 280-acre government land and, slowly and steadily, the population of his followers started swelling. The Jawahar Bagh became a mysterious township in its own right. With the blessings of a powerful minister of the state, even the local authorities could not muster the courage of getting the government land evicted.

Yadav's clout was on the rise and there were numerous cases when he openly misbehaved with police officials and district administration officers. Knowing about his political backing from Lucknow, no official wanted to get involved in any controversy with Yadav.

He had become the voice and face of the illegal encroachers who had come and settled in Jawahar Bagh with him. Freebies such as food and other facilities had attracted a large number of youth and Yadav, who had become a force to be reckoned with in Mathura, started moving around with rifle-totting bodyguards.

Locals say that within days, the population of Jawahar Bagh rose to almost three thousand, and the district administration simply chose not to take notice of that. But the bigger mystery is who was funding Ram Vriksh Yadav and his followers?

For over two years, all those staying there were being provided three meals a day, and this would be impossible without a strong financier. Also, it is no secret that Yadav himself did not have the financial capability to feed such a large number of people for over two years.
Not only this, the sugar sold in the market for Rs 35 per kg was being sold at Rs 25 per kg. Grapes, which cost Rs 60 per kg were being sold there at Rs 20 per kg. Who was bearing this subsidy on behalf of Ram Vriksh Yadav?

Insiders say that Ram Vriksh Yadav was part of a strategy to protect the empire of Jai Guru Dev, that was holding fort in the ashram in Mathura.

The distance between Jawahar Bagh and the ashram is hardly two and a half kilometers. And Yadav was camping there as a protection force for those holding fort at the Mathura Ashram, in case another faction tried to forcibly take control of the ashram.

The background to the whole story is quite interesting. Baba Jai Guru Dev, when alive, had transferred his powers of giving guru- deeksha and naamdaan to new disciples – to his closest lieutenant Umakant Tiwari. Everyone thought that Tiwari would succeed Baba after his death but this was not to happen. Baba died on 18 May 2012.

Surprisingly, Baba Jai Gurudev’s onetime driver Pankaj Yadav was declared the next chief of Gurudev’s Trust, which controls assets to the tune of Rs 12000 crore.

As per the letter, Baba Jai Gurudev – on 20 July 2010, had given this in writing to the Etawah civil court that Pankaj Yadav will inherit his assets. It was Pankaj Yadav who performed the last rites of the Baba.

Among the assets under the Trust is the sprawling ashram on the Delhi highway, besides a school and petrol station in Mathura. The Trust also, reportedly, had over Rs 100 crore deposited in banks at the time, besides land worth thousands of crore. Among other possessions was Baba Gurudev's fleet of cars, including many Mercedes Benz cars and BMWs. As per a report, the fleet in itself is worth more than Rs 150 crore.

The turning point came when former president of the Mathura Bar Association, advocate Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, moved a Public Interest Litigation in the high court, pleading for the eviction of illegal encroachers led by Ram Vriksh Yadav from Jawahar Bagh.
The high court passed an order asking the state government and the local administration to get the public property cleared of the encroachers.

Now, the police and the administration had no other choice than to comply with the order of the high court. On Thursday, the police force reached Jawahar Bagh to get the area evicted. This was the time when all hell broke loose and heavily armed supporters of Ram Vriksh Yadav, who were already perched up on trees, open-fired at the police, and also lobbed grenades at them.

The police were not prepared to battle this sort of an assault and one inspector and a Superintendent of Police were killed. Additional forces were called in to combat the violent supporters of Ram Vriksh Yadav and by the time the operation ended, 24 persons had lost their lives, including the cult leader. In the post-operation clean-up, 47 country made pistols, 184 cartridges and 178 hand grenades were recovered from Jawahar Bagh.

In the recent years, cult culture has been on the rise in India in almost all states of the country. One cult or the other is sprouting, and very soon they create their very own fiefdom with surprisingly large number of supporters.
Not to be missed is the point that they all enjoy political backing and are also used as an en bloc vote banks by the political parties. It is only when mass violence of this nature erupts, that the governments wake up to initiate cover up jobs.

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