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Acharya Azad Singh Arya

Acharya Azad Singh Arya

Affiliation: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Gau Rakshak Dal
Vocation/ Title: Chief of the VHP for the State of Haryana
Location: Haryana, Panipat

Acharya Azad Singh, chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for Haryana, claims to be a Hindu monk. He also spearheads the state’s cow vigilante unit as the vice president of Haryana Gau Rakshak Dal, a Hindu militant organization notorious for cattle-related hate crimes against Muslims.

He is called as the Godfather of the hundreds of far-right vigilantes who operates in and around Haryana state, terrorizing Muslims who are found transporting cattle or consuming beef.

Lynchings of Muslims on the pretext of cow protection have become a new normal in India. The brutal murder of two Muslim men, Junaid and Nasir, in February 2023 was committed by vigilantes under the guidance and patronage of Arya, who is also named an accused in the case.

Many videos and pictures are available on his Facebook account in which he is seen with men holding weapons, including notorious Hindu militant leader Monu Manesar, who is also accused of the murder of two Muslim men. In one of the videos, Arya gleefully fires a revolver, followed by other weapons, while a crowd surrounding him cheers and shouts slogans.

Arya regularly updates his social media profiles after a successful ‘operation,’ which typically involves high-speed chases and capturing of alleged cow smugglers. He is often seen posing with team members who very comfortably flaunt sophisticated weapons and firearms.

An Alt News report by Shinjinee Majumder titled, “Acharya Azad Singh Arya, the gun-wielding ‘guru’ who spearheads Haryana’s cow vigilantism” delves deeper into the design of his wicked empire of cow vigilantism.

Cow vigilantes revere Arya as a spiritual guru and guide, while Monu Manesar refers to him as ‘the soul of Gau Raksha Dal Haryana & a mentor & guru.’ Manesar appears among Arya’s favorite disciples, as evident from the visuals chronicled in the report. Both savor birthday cakes, enjoy swimming and attend ceremonies sporting matching saffron turbans.

(Pictures available on the Facebook accounts of Arya and Manesar)

Defending the accused in the Junaid and Nasir lynching case, Arya attended several rallies and even resorted to blaming the victims for the gruesome lynching.

He said, “It is possible that the murder of Nasir and Junaid was also done by the smugglers due to mutual differences. That is why a CBI probe is needed in this case as both the deceased were also facing criminal cases.”

This Twitter thread shared by Majumdar gives additional insight into his dark world of crime.

Although he keeps a low profile on social media and news television and presents himself as a soft-spoken and benign Godman who is rarely interested in worldly affairs, the truth is the exact opposite. He is a Godfather of the cow vigilantes and criminals who operate on highways passing through the state of Haryana and commit looting, extortion, lynching, and assaults, all in the name of “protecting” cows.

He has no qualms in supporting violence and is unapologetically in support of cattle-related vigilantism.

In February 2023, he suggested crushing the Muslims to dust with bulldozers. “I request Haryana CM [Manohar Lal] Khattar to learn from Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and bring bulldozers to the houses of cow smugglers. Drive the bulldozers through their houses,” he said.

He made the statement at one of the Hindu Maha Panchayats (Hindu religious parliament) organized in support of the accused cow vigilantes who killed Junaid and Nasir.