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Dhirendra Krishna Shastri

Dhirendra Shastri alias Bageshwar Baba

Affiliation: Head of Bageshwar Dham temple of Madhya Pradesh’s Chhatarpur
Categories: Most Dangerous
Location: Madhya Pradesh

Dhirendra Shastri is a self-proclaimed Godman who claims to have miraculous powers and the ability to read minds.  Primarily, he is a Katha Vachak who tells religious tales and gives religious teachings to his devotees.

He was an auto-rickshaw driver and became one of the most famous Hindu gurus. He gained prominence with the political support of various leaders of the Congress Party, BJP, and others. Baba’s popularity seems to have spiked after 2021 when before the Covid lockdown, a three-day program was organized by Chhatarpur (New Delhi) Congress legislator Alok Chaturvedi in April and was broadcast on Aastha TV. The telecast gained him nationwide popularity. Since then, his programs have been regularly televised on Sanskar TV.

BJP leaders like Manoj Tiwari, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra, three-time Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh of the BJP, and Congress MLA Vikas Upadhyay, etc. are among his devotees.

He has publicly disclosed his penchant for bulldozer politics, which the Hindu far-right hails as a means to a  ‘final solution’ for Muslims in India. Dhirendra Shastri aka Bulldozer Baba urged the Hindus to unite and buy bulldozers, demolish the homes of  ‘stone pelters’…India belongs to Hindus…’

He was seen cheerfully clapping and laughing at the demolition of Muslim houses in the aftermath of anti-Muslim violence in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh.

In some speeches, he urged for arming Hindus. ‘Mala ke sath sath bhala ki hinduon ko zaroorat hai’.(Hindus are required to have spears along with a string of beads (used for prayer).

“Tum mera sath do hum Hindu Rashtra banaenge, ab chudiyan pahan kar nahi  baithna ghar me, radhe radhe kahne se dhrm nahi bachnaa sriman ( Keep supporting me, and I will give you Hindu Rashtra, don’t sit in homes wearing bangles (like women); reciting Radhe Radhe won’t save the religion (from Muslims and Christians)”

Welcoming the Court order regarding the Gyanvapi Mosque of Kashi in Uttar Pradesh, he exclaimed,‘Abhi Mathura baqi hai ‘ (now is the turn of Mathura. Mosques at these places are in close proximity with Hindu temples and have been under attack from Hindu extremists).

His hate-filled statements regularly make national news .‘Hindu Ek ho, ramcharitmanas rashtriya pustak ho  aur Bharat Hindu Rashtra ho’ (Hindus unite! Ramcharitmanas (Hindu religious text) be made the constitution (for India) and India be declared Hindu Rashtra).

He openly threatens Muslims by saying, “Bharat me rahna hai to Sita Ram kahna hai (If you want to live in India then say Sita Ram). Qaede me rahoge to faede me rahoge (For your own good, Stay in limits )”.

Hindus see him as a champion because of his conversion campaigns (Ghar wapsi ). One such conversion was live telecast on the national mainstream media channels.

In one of his programs, an alleged Muslim child named Mohammad Asim was brought. Baba announced on the microphone that this child was insisting on meeting him. Then he questions the kid whether he recognizes him, and the child replies ‘no.’  Baba, however, loves to show Muslim presence in his programs and display how they bow before him. He flaunts Muslim’s attendance before him as Sanatana/Hindu victory .’Hum ne to Shakti dikha kar surrender karaya’ (I have made them surrender by showing my power).

He is quite controversial for witchcraft, black magic, and superstitious activities, which are illegal but rampant in India. Anti-superstition activist Shyam Manav filed a complaint against him for promoting superstitious beliefs in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Mr. Manav sought action against Baba under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil, and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, which prohibits superstitious activities. . He was however given a clean chit by the Nagpur police.[iv] No wonder because police Officers appear in uniform in his programs and bow before him.

Amidst controversy, several BJP leaders have come forward in his support, including far-right leaders like Griraj Singh, Kapil Mishra, and Kailash Vijayvargiya.