The Pied Piper of Jawahar Bagh

The police claim they have recovered a huge cache of weapons from the premise after the clashes.

June 11, 2016 12:42 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:02 pm IST

Ramvriksh Yadav.

Ramvriksh Yadav.

For his followers, Ram Vriksh Yadav a.k.a. ‘Netaji’, estimated to be 60 years old, was a messiah. But for officials of the horticulture and agriculture departments in the park, he was a goon who terrorised them, a “cruel and heartless man”, a “Naxal.” Yadav had a wiry frame,sported a grey beard and hair, and had a shrill voice. He was authoritative, he allowed no one else to speak when he spoke. “He spoke boldly and dared the senior rank officials. Ang ang phadakta tha uska (his entire body would quiver when he spoke),” an official says.

When he and his entourage made Jawahar Bagh their home, a host of people in luxury cars would descend and hold secret meetings with the self-styled god-man. Yadav himself kept dozens of vehicles and some luxury cars without number plates, according to an off.icial

Yadav wrote a book on ‘Vidhik Satyagrah’, arguing that India has not yet attained financial freedom. He also contested assembly and parliamentary elections in the early ‘90s under the banner of Jai Gurudev’s Doordarshi Party, which used the ‘rising sun’ as its symbol, but fared poorly.

Fantastical ideas

In the park premises, Yadav organised prayer sessions for his followers every morning. Following this he would hold oratory sessions where he would present himself as the Pratham Nagrik or First Citizen of the country, based on his fantastical political ideas. “Remove the President, and the Prime Minister and change the Constitution to elect the ruler through popular vote. I don’t follow any Constitution,” he would exhort his followers. He had even started a YouTube channel, Swadhin Bharat Vidhik Satyagraha, which hosted his sermons and speeches.

Through loudspeakers, Yadav would launch blistering verbal attacks on the state to convey his idea of Azad Hind Sarkar. “The Indian Prime Minister, Chief Minister and President don’t have Indian citizenship. I have my own constitution, my own court, government. The SSP (senior superintendent of police) and DM (district magistrate) should work under me,” was his common refrain. Yadav had applied several RTIs seeking to know from officials if they had proof of their citizenship.

However, in the days leading to the final assault by the state, Yadav warned his followers against going out. “’If you go out, somebody will kill you, I would be questioned, and held responsible.’ That’s what Netaji told us,” says a follower.

One man, two tales

The police claim they have recovered a huge cache of weapons from the premises after the clashes. Yadav, they say, was training youth in combat to raise a small army. But survivors tell a different story. They claim Yadav was a peace-loving man who, though aggressive in his demeanour, did not encourage violence, let alone killing. The followers argue that some miscreants from a competing rival group of the Jai Gurudev sect infiltrated the camp and fired at the police officials on June 2.

Hazarilal Gupta, a devout follower, says: “He was like a bhagwan, who was against destroying crops and trees. He was a peaceful man. One day, he even ordered his follower to feed the entire camp after it was found that his child had killed a bird,” says Gupta.

How can a bhagwan be violent, he asks. The question hangs in the air.

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