VHP, Bajrang Dal deny Bajrangi link, but old photo says otherwise

Bittu Bajrangi has been charged with possession of prohibited firearms. What took the police so long to act against him?

VHP's denial of Bittu Bajrangi's links with them (L) and Bittu Bajrangi in RSS uniform with others (R) (Photo: National Herald archives)
VHP's denial of Bittu Bajrangi's links with them (L) and Bittu Bajrangi in RSS uniform with others (R) (Photo: National Herald archives)

NH Political Bureau

Despite the alacrity with which the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has denied any association with cow vigilante Raj Kumar alias Bittu Bajrangi, a photograph has emerged of him in the uniform of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Following Bajrangi's arrest on Independence Day by Haryana police, the VHP in a statement claimed that he had never been a member of the Bajrang Dal. But the authenticity of the photograph of Bajrangi in RSS uniform, shared by fact-checker Mohammed Zubair of Altnews on Wednesday, has not yet been questioned and the RSS is yet to issue any statement denying his association with the organisation.

Bittu Bajrangi arrested by the police (photo: @zoo_bear/Twitter)
Bittu Bajrangi arrested by the police (photo: @zoo_bear/Twitter)

Clearly, there is much more than meets the eye. Bajrangi was reportedly trying to flee when he was nabbed by plainclothes policemen (video below). It is still not clear whether the police took him back to his house and conducted a search of the premises.

The search would seem logical, since Bajrangi has been charged with possessing prohibited arms and ammunition and obstructing public servants in the course of their duty, but reports so far do not speak of any recovery by the police. Bajrangi, who would often flaunt swords and firearms in his social media posts, could provide valuable information about the illegal arms trade. But will this line of inquiry be pursued?

Barely a week before his arrest, Bajrangi was being felicitated by Sudarshan Television in the presence of former Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey. And on the morning of his arrest, he was posting Independence Day greetings. Clearly, he was unaware of any action against him.   

Arrested for allegedly assaulting a police team and snatching back the weapons the police had confiscated from him and his group of armed men, Bajrangi was remanded to just a day’s police custody by a Faridabad court on Wednesday. Clashing with the police is a serious offence, but no bulldozer has yet been sent to his residence by Haryana police; and he has not been charged with terrorist activities either, despite possessing prohibited arms. So what took the police so long to act against him? When was the FIR lodged?  

The FIR filed by ASP Usha Kundu states, “We saw a mob of around 20 people carrying swords and trishuls marching to Nalhar temple. I was on law-and-order duty and stopped them. I ordered cops to snatch and seize their weapons and they started raising slogans against police."

She added in her complaint, "They manhandled the team. As we tried to leave with their weapons in our vehicles they went ahead lying in front of vehicles. Another police team came to intervene, but they opened rear gates of our official vehicle and fled with weapons. I was busy with post-clash law and order resumption, so the complaint was delayed."

Bittu Bajrangi and unidentified supporters have been booked under sections 148, 149, 332, 353, 186, 395, 397, 506 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act. 

The sections cover such offences as rioting and unlawful assembly, carrying prohibited weapons, and obstructing police officials and public servants from discharging their duty.

Sections 148 and 149 relate to rioting with deadly weapons. Section 332 relates to punishment for causing hurt to a public servant while discharging his duty. Section 186 relates to obstructing a public servant. Section 353 refers to assault or use of criminal force against public servants. Curiously, sections 395 and 397 refer to punishment for dacoity and dacoity with ‘attempt to cause death or grievous hurt’. Section 506 relates to criminal intimidation and Section 25 of the Arms Act prescribes punishment for possessing, repairing, testing or transferring prohibited arms and ammunition.

Bajrangi was earlier booked by Faridabad Police over one of his social media videos, allegedly instigating the clashes in Nuh earlier this month. In one of the many videos which allegedly provoked the attack on a VHP procession in Nuh, Bajrangi apparently taunts Muslim residents of the area and tells them to get ready to welcome their brother-in-law.

The sudden police action after two weeks, and the alacrity with which the VHP has distanced itself seem to indicate that there is much that we are yet to learn in the curious case of Bittu Bajrangi and his arrest.

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