End vigilantism, Yogi warns right-wing Hindu outfits

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has cautioned two top Hindu groups to stay away from vigilantism amid rising national outrage over a string of violent incident by self-proclaimed cow protectors and right-wing outfits.

The 44-year-old Hindu hardline leader told members of the World Hindu Federation and Hindu Yuva Vahini, which he founded, not to take the law in their hands and to seek help from government authorities if needed, sources told The Hindustan Times.

''Remember, the law is the same for everyone,'' the CM is reported to have told the cadre of the two outfits. The groups have now decided to popularise the state government's initiatives, sources added. The groups have also shelved all new membership requests.

The comments come just a week after a Muslim man was dragged out of his Meerut home allegedly by Vahini members and thrashed for being found in a ''compromising position'' with a Hindu woman. Earlier this month, a Muslim cattle trader was lynched allegedly by cow protection vigilantes in Rajasthan's Alwar.

The cow is considered holy by many Hindus and is a central symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party's agenda that includes calling for a nationwide ban on cattle slaughter. Many say lack of strong condemnation by top leaders emboldens the Hindu right-wing cadre to indulge in violence and moral policing.

''In his very first meeting with the cadre of the two outfits after becoming the CM, Maharajji (Adityanath) had said that law is the same for everyone. The same advice has been repeated and I understand the two outfits have issued similar instructions to their cadre now,'' a Vahini leader, privy to the CM's advice to the cadre, told HT.

Membership requests for these two outfits have shot up manifold since Adityanath - who also heads a hardline Hindu sect in eastern UP - became the CM, but after the 'be-careful' advice, the two right wing outfits have put all fresh membership requests on hold.

All new membership requests for HYV are being put on a six month to one year waitlist while Hindu Mahasangh leaders said they weren't accepting any fresh membership requests.

The cadre would be tasked with popularising Adityanath government's pro-poor initiatives in villages and other remote parts of the state.

''An app is being readied that would keep the cadre abreast of all the initiatives of this government. For instance, the government decision to provide free bags, dress and shoes to poor students of primary and secondary education is a big one and our cadre would popularise it. This will hopefully push up enrolment too,'' said Manish Srivatava, an office-bearer of the Hindu Mahasangh.