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Acharya Rakesh Upadhayay

Acharya Rakesh Upadhayay

Affiliation: Chhattisgarh Sant Samiti (CSS)
Vocation/ Title: Hindu Monk and Deputy President of Chattisgarh Sant Samiti (CSS)
Location: Chattisgarh, India

Acharya Rakesh Upadhayay is a Hindu seer from Chhattisgarh. He is associated with a state-level Hindu religious body called Chattisgarh Sant Samiti (CSS) as its deputy President.

Clad in saffron color clothes, Upadhyay embodies the depiction of a quintessential Hindu sadhu. However, his activities are not limited to Hindu rituals and rites. He regularly attends rallies in which calls for Muslim economic boycotts and genocide are rampantly given. He also leads padayatra (foot marches) and conducts public meetings demanding a Hindu Rashtra (Nation) for India.

He is often seen sharing the stage with habitual hate and genocide mongers like Rajeev Lochan, Sadhvi Prachi, and Swami Avdheshananda Giri, who make inflammatory speeches, including calls for an exclusive state for Hindus or ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and deliver speeches and raise slogans targeting Muslims and other minority communities in India.

In an organization’s meeting in October 2022, which Upadhayay attended, a resolution was adopted in which it was decided that the CSS would issue identity cards to Hindu saints in Chattisgarh to guard the religion against the disrepute which the unidentified ‘outsiders’ pose.

The resolution was yet another attempt to reiterate the oft-floated fallacy that Muslims perpetrate crimes disguised as sadhus to defame Hinduism and that Hindu saints are benign and innocent.

In March 2023, Hindu saints from across the state of Chattisgarh participated in padayatra (foot march), demanding unequivocally that India be declared a Hindu Rashtra (nation) and echoing anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and Islamophobic propaganda ahead of the assembly election in the state. The march was organized under the banner of CSS, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Hindu far-right organizationS LIKE Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

At the summation of the march in the state’s capital Raipur Upadhayay said: “During the month-long padayatra, around 200 saints and sadhus (saints) visited villages in all districts of Chhattisgarh along the main roads and spread the message of Hindu pride. They talked about the importance of Hindu Rashtra and said we all are Hindus first and it is above all castes. We must unite to fight against conversion.”

His social media accounts are filled with visuals of anti-Muslim rallies and processions.