‘We can make the government fall’

Print edition : September 02, 2016

Vivek Premi. Photo: Divya Trivedi

Interview with Vivek Premi, district convener of the Bajrang Dal.

VIVEK PREMI, 22, district convener of the Bajrang Dal in Shamli, Uttar Pradesh, could not sit for his BA LLB examinations last year, as two days prior to them, on June 28, he was arrested for allegedly beating up and blackening the face of a Muslim man before parading him through the streets accusing him of stealing a calf. Charged under the National Security Act by the State government, Premi was incarcerated for seven months before the Central government revoked the charges on January 1, 2016. Since then, he has been groomed by the Sangh Parivar to be the dynamic face of the Hindu Sena. In April, he was booked under Sections 153 (A) and 147 of the Indian Penal Code after he led a bike rally in a Muslim-dominated area with the slogans “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”. “I will plead guilty in a court of law if any DM [District Magistrate], CO [Circle Officer] or SP [Superintendent of Police] says that these nationalistic slogans are communal,” he told Frontline.

While he has led several vigilante actions in connection with ghar wapsi and love jehad, his pet project remains gau raksha. A Sonar (goldsmith) by caste, he has a keen caste consciousness. He seems in fact to typify Other Backward Classes youths who were pulled into the Hindutva fold during and after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Sociological research has shown that Hindutva foot soldiers have been drawn mainly from the OBCs, rather than Brahmins and other upper castes. Excerpts.

How and when did you join the Bajrang Dal?

In 2013, during the communal riots of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli, I saw the State and Central governments’ attitude where every politician took the side of Muslims against Hindus and felt compelled to do something for the Hindu samaj. A Hindu girl was harassed and it was her brothers who got killed. When the Hindus tried to organise a mahapanchayat, they were attacked by communal people. And the State government slapped cases against us. It was pathetic. Unless every Hindu realises his duty towards Hindutva, nationalism and Gau Mata then like in Sind, Gandhar, Bangladesh and Iran in Bharat too, Hindus will vanish.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said that 80 per cent of gau rakshaks were anti-social elements by night. Sangh outfits lashed out at him for this.

There is some truth to the Prime Minister’s statement, and there may be a small percentage of such frauds who operate with gau rakshaks to earn money and we will remove them from our ranks. But I disagree with him that such a huge percentage could be such characters. I want to remind him that during the 2014 election campaigns it was these [80 per cent] gau rakshaks who went from door to door raising slogans of “ Har har Modi ghar ghar Modi” thinking that now they would have their government in power at the Centre which would put an end to gau hatya and shut down the slaughterhouses and meat transportation. If we can ensure victory for a government, we can also make it fall, but so far we are not doing it. We will give this government the full five years to show results, but if it keeps making these kinds of statements without any stern action in relation to gau raksha, then we cannot guarantee our support in the next round of elections and we can at least shake three seats of Shamli. As the Uttar Pradesh elections are just around the corner, we will give our support. Once we catch cow smugglers, there is no place to keep the cows. Every district has fallow land and a pond. It is the government’s duty to remove squatters from there and make it available for cows. Modi ji should pay attention to such things rather than finding fault with gau rakshaks.

Modi himself gave speeches on cow protection while campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.

Yes, we heard those speeches. Modi ji pointed out some flaws with gau rakshaks; nowhere did he say it should be halted. The basic agenda of Modi ji won’t change, we have that much faith.

Incidents such as what happened in Dadri reinforce the inherent violence of the Bajrang Dal.

As far as violence is concerned, Agra VHP leader Arun Mahor was shot dead by gau hathyaras. In Saharanpur, a gau rakshak was blinded, and in Amravati on the Maharashtra border, a speeding truck killed four while injuring four others. So are [raising voice] Hindu Bajrang Dal workers roaming the streets to get killed? For a truck to reach Shamli from Haryana, it has to cross one police station and three police chowkis. If the police were doing their job, we would not have to take the law into our own hands.

How do you get information on cow smugglers?

Through a network of Bajrang Dal workers who communicate via WhatsApp groups. Of 370 villages in Shamli, there are Bajrang Dal units in 170 villages and there is one WhatsApp group for every block. There are six blocks.

Dead cows are skinned, and the hide is used in the leather industry.

[Long pause] I do not want to get into this.

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