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Ashutosh Pandey

Ashutosh Pandey

Affiliation: Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Mukti Nirman Trust
Vocation/ Title: Hindu Monk
Location: Shamli, Uttar Pradesh

Ashutosh Pandey, a history-sheeter, is a Hindu monk from Shamli, Uttar Pradesh (UP), who has gained popularity in the region for his anti-Muslim hate campaigns. Dumped by the Hindu militant organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), he founded a trust called ‘Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Mukti Nirman’ to mobilize Hindus against Muslims on the issue of reclaiming mosques, which he claims were built on temples.

He is also associated with Rashtriya Brahman Yuvjan Sabha, a Brahman (considered the highest in the caste hierarchy)  supremacist organization.

He has been making capital out of the Mosque-Temple controversy of Shahi Idgah mosque-Krishna Janmabhoomi temple at Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Notably, the issue has been plaguing UP for a long and has been on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political agenda for decades.

Under the banner of his organization, Panday conducts the ‘Jan Jagran Yatras’ ( rallies) and ‘Jan Sammelan’ ( public meetings), claiming to spread information about the alleged illegal activities of the mosques. These events blatantly provoke Hindus against the Muslim minority and implore them to liberate the ‘Krishna Janm Bhumi’ (Birth place of lord Krishna), which they claim is the site on which Idgah mosque stands in Mathura, UP. The matter is, however, pending in court.

Pandey, undeterred by the legal consequences of his malicious programs continues to stir up Hindu sentiments against Muslims by actively militarising Hindu youth through the ‘Krishna Sena’ and ‘Radha Vahini’ – the wings of his organization. Through indoctrination and training, Pandey seeks to prepare a ‘ground army’ of Hindu youth and make them well-equipped to respond in adverse situations.

Emboldened by the support of other Hindu far-right organizations, Panday audaciously roams around spewing venom against Muslims. One of her close allies is a notorious hate-monger, Sadhvi Prachi Acharya, who heads the women’s cell of the organization- Radha Vahini.

He has a bundle of criminal cases pending against him in several courts in UP. He has also been arrested many times and even remained in prison for months under the charges of gang rape, hate speech, cheating, murder threats, extortion, election fraud, hurting religious sentiments, and possessing counterfeit coins. He has also been booked at least four times under UP’s Goonda Act.

His other preoccupation has been to harass Muslim traders and farmers, in the district under the guise of cow protection. However, Pandey was himself caught on camera trying to bribe a police officer to release a truck of 50 oxen that were allegedly being smuggled illegally.

In 2019, Shamli police announced a reward of twenty-five thousand rupees for anyone who would give information regarding the whereabouts of Pandey who was wanted in a slew of serious offenses including the attempt to murder, attempt to rape, extortion, cheating, forgery etcetera.

In January 2022, more than a dozen businessmen filed complaints with the police regarding the harassment they were facing at the hands of Ashutosh Panday.

He is being hailed by the local media as a celebrity monk and is considered the face of the mosque-temple dispute in Mathura, UP.  The Hindu right gets a new flag bearer in Uttar Pradesh as the cases against him appear to have been put on the back burner.