A prominent anti-Muslim Hindutva extremist recently spoke at a Hindu community centre in Leicester and was even given an award by Leicestershire Police.
Dhirendra Shastri, also known as Bageshwar Dham Baba, is a famous 27 year old Indian Hindu guru who regularly targets Muslims in his discourse. Several BJP leaders are among his devotees.
He spoke at Prajapati Hall (a community centre which contains a Hindu Temple) in front of a large audience on July 22 and was given an NPA Commanders Award for Recognition of Service by Leicestershire Police for his support to the local communities of Leicester.
Shastri has publicly backed “bulldozer politics,” which the Hindutva far-right hails as a means to a “final solution” for Muslims in India. He has urged 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 has backed arming Hindus – “Hindus are required to have spears along with a string of beads (used for prayer).”
Other incendiary remarks he has made include:
- “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).”
- “Hindus unite! Ramcharitmanas (Hindu religious text) will be made the constitution (for India) and India will be declared Hindu Rashtra.”
- Threatening Muslims: “If you want to live in India then say Sita Ram. For your own good, stay within limits.”
- “If you (Hindus) are united, you will make India or Pakistan a Hindu nation.”
Leicestershire Police told 5Pillars: “Following an event that was not organised through the police, some challenging logistical problems arose and needed to be responded to at the time.
“As a result the local East Leicester Chief Inspector, Inspector and PCSO wanted to acknowledge the help that was given by the event to ensure the continued safety of the public.
“Therefore a thank you was given to those involved to show that the help given was appreciated in what was a complex and busy gathering in East Leicester.
“This should not be confused with any more formal awards or commendations that are issued by Leicestershire Police, but rather as it was intended, a thank you to those who helped keep the public safe.”
However, Muslim organisation MEND has demanded an investigation by Leicestershire Police.
MEND said: “His reprehensible calls for violence against Muslims, advocating for bulldozing in reference to Muslim homes and his vision of a Muslim-free Indo-Pakistan region reveal the extent of his dangerous beliefs.
“What’s shocking is that this comes less than a year after hostilities in Leicester, where Muslims were primarily targeted by RSS Hindutva extremists. Allowing Shastri’s presence and influence in the city, along with a commendation, will undoubtedly fuel further tensions between Hindus and Muslims, undoing any progress towards restoring cohesiveness.
“Leicester Police’s failure to recognise the extremist nature of Shastri’s ideology is alarming. By commending him, they display indifference towards Islamophobia and the welfare of Muslims in the community, perpetuating an atmosphere of fear and discrimination.
“We call upon Leicestershire Police to immediately revoke their commendation of Dhirendra Shastri and launch a thorough investigation into his ideology and nature. Embracing an individual with such hateful views can only harm community relations and pose a threat to social harmony.
“Additionally, we urge Hindus in Leicester to reject Dhirendra Shastri’s Islamophobic rhetoric. Unity, respect and understanding between communities are essential for any society. Embracing divisive figures will only sow seeds of animosity, hindering progress/cooperation.
“Let’s stand together against hatred and bigotry, fostering an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. Leicester can be a beacon of unity, but only if we actively denounce hate and extremism and work towards building bridges between all communities.”
And local activist Majid Freeman added: “We are appealing to all community networks to keep an eye on vulnerable members of the Leicester Hindu community who are being targeted and groomed by the RSS Hindutva government in India for short-term political goals. We will not let Modi and his BJP strategists destroy the good inter-faith relations we have enjoyed for a very long time. We await a full explanation from.”
The development comes nearly one year after Muslim and Hindu youths confronted each other on the streets of Leicester leading to scores of arrests and several jail sentences.
Muslims told 5Pillars that the unrest was instigated by Hindutva thugs, but Hindus have said this is a false narrative which has made them fearful and targeted.