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Sunday, December 3, 2023

Palghar Unplugged

The relationship between Hindu Dharma and the Vanvasi (Adivasi) is as old as this ancient land of Bharat. Bhagwan Shiva appeared to Arjuna in Mahabharata as a Kirata, mountain-dwelling tribal – there is a mahakavya i.e. epic poem ‘Kiratarjuniya’ written on this meeting.

The famous Indus Valley civilisation Pashupati seal has best captured Pashupati, Lord of the animate world, sitting in the lap of nature, surrounded by animals and meditating in the yogic pose.

The distillation of the Vanvasi from Hindu Dharma and its separation into normative categories occurred only after the systematic assault of hierarchical proselytisation from invasive western religions.

But though a lot has changed since the hoary past, the Vanvasi today when he comes across a saffron clad sadhu, will, still, instinctively bow his head and pay homage as if to shared spiritual history. He will never ever lynch him. Not unless he has been drastically and tragically turned.

Turning the Vanvasi is also not simple. It requires subterfuge, deception, bribes and sleight of hand. And to do it in the scale of Bharat’s magnitude, with 104 million Vanvasis, it requires very deep pockets.

Needless to say, religious conversion involves a spiritually abusive rhetoric that necessitates the Vanvasi’s loss of ancestral heritage and tribal traditions.

We Know…

We know that a large chunk of Bharat’s Vanvasi population, especially post independence under the nose of the secular state , through spiritual, economical, psychological and social exploitation, has been painstakingly converted into different Christian sects.

We know that the Hindu Vanvasis can never be ‘converted’ to Hindu Dharma because Hindu Dharma is their original faith. Anyway the concept of conversion does not exist in Hindu Dharma. That is why reconversion of the Vanvasis back to Hindu Dharma is called Ghar Wapasi, the Return.

We know that a separate Scheduled Tribe category for the purpose of reservation does not make the Vanvasi less Hindu.

Being Hindu is an existential state.  An already pristine acceptance of multiversity that needs no labels, no baptism and no conversion. No effort, no regulation, no rules, no judgement, no retribution, no awards, no punishment.

 It is what it is.


In Palghar we know that Christians as recently as 2019 were implementing  aggressive conversion methods. According to missionary logic (apparently superior to Hindu), Ganesh is an elephant and Hanuman is a monkey and therefore, both are disqualified from Godhood.

We know that Vanvasis were manipulated into identifying with demonic figures in Hindu mythology like Ravan. By worshiping him, Vanvasis learnt to denigrate other Hindu Gods including Ram.

We know that the Roman Catholics and Protestants who had so far been at odds with each other joined forces in recent years against Hindu ashrams that had taken root there.

We know that in recent times the Christian animosity against the saffron clad Hindu took on a militant intensity that had led to many attacks on sadhus in neighbouring areas.

We know that at this time Hindu Vanvasi anguish against the Christian missionary activities in Palghar had also made some daily newspaper headlines.

From this, one does not need to make a big leap of superior Christian logic to surmise that reviling the Hindu would have been an extremely important item in the Christian missionary agenda.

We know that relief measures, medicines and practically much of the local administration was run in village ‘baithak’ courts at Christian centres the Vanvasis were coerced to attend.

Here medicines, meat, alcohol, gifts were handed out and local conflicts resolved as well as huge amounts of money granted to Vanvasis.

We know that incitement against alcohol taboos and vilifying Hindu sadhus as organ racketeers and child abductors and even dacoits and land grabbers had inculcated a collective fear psychosis amongst Vanvasis and neighbouring village areas.

Other competitors like health workers who are alternative sources of medical relief were also included in the vilification list.

We know that in most small remote villages throughout Bharat, lawlessness is normal and the village mob is ruled by power position holders.

We know that in Palghar of late this role had shifted from the Communist Party Marxist to Kashtagari Sangathan run by Peter D’Mello who was funnelling money from the Church to the local Communist Party Marxist leaders.

We know that the local MLA in Palghar is from the Communist Party Marxist (CPM). We know that since social work activities with tribal populations involve land acquisition rights environment NGOs with ample funding sources must also be involved.

The lynching…

We know that on that terrible April 16th night, the two sadhus from Juna Akhara had permission for travel, fifty thousand rupees in their possession and some silver Puja items that were later stolen.

We know that their Maruti van was stopped at 9 p.m. at Palghar by 10-20 villagers whose fears must have already been fattened with Hindu hatred.

We know that the sadhus and the van driver were neither organ stealers, nor child abductors nor land grabbers.

We know they were on their way for the last rites of a sadhu in Gujarat.

We know that the inflamed mob overturned and assaulted their car with sticks and stones.

Very importantly, they did not kill them, but waited for intervention from authorities.

We know that forest guards came to the scene. We know that just a few days ago health workers had been assaulted and after intervention from authorities, were later released.

We know that the forest guards informed the police about 40 kilometres away and the police reached in an hour.

We know that the Sarpanch is from the BJP and intervened with the angry mob to let the sadhus go. She left in a couple of hours around the time the bleeding seventy year old sadhu Kalpavriksha Giri was taken into the forest post by the forest guards and police officers who had arrived.

We know that a mob of 300-400 had been mobilised outside the forest department room where Kalpavriksha Giri was held.

Meanwhile the other sadhu Sushil Giri and the driver cowered outside.

We know that there were at least 12-15 police officers present at the spot.

We know NCP and CPM leaders were also present.

We know that the mob were mostly CPM members. We know that the forest guards and police officers were armed, and if they so wished, could have fired in the air to dispel the mob.

We know that all the mob required was one humane police officer, or forest guard or politician present to allay the mob’s fears and say ‘these are not criminals but ordinary sadhus, let them go.’

We know from the viral video the body language of the police officer escorting the bleeding sadhu out of the building seems to say ‘ Kalpavriksha Giri Maharaj, don’t be scared. I’ll personally escort you to the police van.’

The body language of Kalpavriksha Giri, sadhu that he was, seems to be complete faith and trust in humanity. The body language of the local politician was that of a ringmaster waiting to start a circus event.

The body language of the bloodthirsty mob was that of hunters waiting for the kill. The cringing sadhu appeared as soon as the lights came on at the forest post where electricity had as usual routinely shut down. If the sadhu had been extricated when it was still dark the mob would not have been able to see the sadhu.

After a few steps outside the police officer gave the clinging sadhu a shove towards the crowd. And that was the moment the hunters were waiting for.

Juvenile boys ululated with tribal war cries and this old and beautiful sadhu, full of devotional songs and redemption stories was fed by the local government officers like a piece of meat to famished dogs.

The Naga sadhus of the Juna Akhara  had once with supernatural bravery repelled an entire force of Aurungzeb’s Mughal army. Now they begged for mercy from a people with Hindu names who had learnt to abhor with diabolical zeal Hindu saffron and everything associated with saffron, may he be defenceless, old, innocent or infirm.

While Comrade and converted Christian watched in cahoots, it was over within minutes, recorded on a steady handheld mobile camera.

We know it as a public execution of the Hindu. We know that this happened exactly after corrupt Leftist racketeers and perceived enemies of the Central government had been booked by law.

A Christian Comrade evangelical message has shivered through the country.

The Hindu is dead. Hindu loses, Christian wins. Comrade wins.

In the subsequent investigation, an FIR list of about a hundred names was released. We know that bail for them was posted by Kashtagari Sangathan and that most present in the mob were CPM members.

Most of the names are Hindu names. We know that many Christian tribals  after conversion don’t give up their Hindu names so that they can still avail Government subsidies and reservations for the Scheduled Tribe category.

We most definitely know that Arnab Goswami, desi Batman of Bharat’s media, for the first time in television history, named and shamed the Italian born  Antonio Maino and widow of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his talk show.

In true Mussolini’s Squadristi style (her father was a black shirt), cadre members of the Italian born’s Indian National Congress party attacked Arnab’s car in the middle of the night.

We know that Arnab has hit a nerve.

We know that Antonio Maino has been alleged with close links to the Roman Catholic Church.

Will Arnab be able to open the entire Catholic conversion can of comrade worms?

That we do not know.


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Shivani Singh
Shivani Singh
Shivani is an author published by Hachette and Harper Collins. Her books have also been published and translated in European languages. Her next, 'Nalanda' will be published by Amaryllis in English, Hindi and Marathi.


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