Category Archives: Hindi News

In India, a Ghost Town and a Mythological Bridge

Surveying the scene, Rama Moti, 64, a restaurant owner, lifted from his chair a bit at the mention of the stones. “Fakes,” he called them, explained by natural processes and part of a campaign to commercialize Rameswaram.


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“The wind, it gets in them,€ he said of why the stones float. “It’s the scientific way.”

Back along the water, Omkar Ashram, a sadhu, or Hindu holy man, who guessed his age at 70, said he was shocked by the pace of change in Rameswaram, which he last visited 20 years ago.

“See, before, homes were huts,” he said. “Stepping down from the train, only horse-drawn carriages were coming. Now, there are three-story buildings and air-conditioning.”

As thousands gathered near Rameswaram this summer for Mr. Modi’s speech inaugurating the train line, the prime minister evoked the bridge to make a point about development.

“The Ramayana tells us the story of a little squirrel, the little squirrel from Rameswaram that helped in building Rama Setu,” he said. “A squirrel can inspire us all. So, like that squirrel, if 1.3 billion Indians each take just one step forward, India will march 1.3 billion steps ahead.â

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Why Was Gauri Lankesh Killed?

She mockingly asked me, “And where are the Dalit women leaders?”

I replied sarcastically, mentioning something about privilege.

She was enraged. “Yes, I am rich, I live in a big house and I am very privileged,” she said. “Come up with a better argument for why, as a woman, I should not be part of the anti-caste struggle. Go read Ambedkar properly!”

The conversation ended and I thought we would never speak again.

I met her a little later at a lecture in Bangalore. She held my hand for a long while after the talk and introduced me to everyone as her son. A few days later, she messaged me with kind words about an article I had written. And she wanted to watch “Madras,†a movie by Pa Ranjith, a young Dalit filmmaker.

Ms. Lankesh was also an effective political organizer with the ability to bring together social and political groups — Dalits, indigenous tribals, leftists, Muslims and others — opposed to the Hindu nationalist attempts to transform India into a country primarily for the Hindus.

The priests at a temple in Udupi, a southern Indian town — a stronghold of the Hindu nationalist movement — were segregating the lower castes, especially Dalit devotees, from the upper-caste Hindus. Last September, Ms. Lankesh helped persuade numerous progressive, Dalit and leftist groups, and nongovernmental organizations — who loathe working together because of political differences — to come together in a march to protest segregation at the Udupi temple. The question of whether Dalits will get to lead the struggle for their rights returned. Ms. Lankesh negotiated with every group to ensure that the upper-caste leaders didn’t appropriate the march.

A month earlier, in July 2016, hard-line Hindu activists had stripped and flogged four Dalit men in Gujarat, the home state of Mr. Modi, for skinning a cow. Thousands of Dalits earn their meager livelihood from skinning dead cows and buffaloes and selling their hides to leather traders. Jignesh Mevani, a young Dalit lawyer, organized and led huge protests in Gujarat against the cow vigilantes.

Ms. Lankesh settled the question of leadership by getting everybody to agree that Mr. Mevani should lead the march against segregation to Udupi temple. Around 10,000 people joined the march. The opposition unity made an impression.


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Soon after that I saw my social media timelines filled with photographs of Ms. Lankesh hugging Mr. Mevani and Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, leftist student leaders from a university in New Delhi. She called them âher children.” It was her way of creating unity among various groups opposed to the rise of the majoritarian politics.

On the night of her murder, I stood outside her house with our common friends and we wondered why anyone would kill her. She wasn’t the only outspoken critic of the Hindu right. Her newspaper, which was critical of Mr. Modi’s government and the Hindu nationalists, didn’t sell more than a few thousand copies although it was much respected.

I wondered if they killed her because she was a member of the Lingayat community in Karnataka, which wants to separate from Brahmanical Hinduism. In the past few months, the Lingayat leaders had mobilized hundreds of thousands of supporters in public rallies. The mobilization threatens the chances of the Hindu nationalist B.J.P. in the forthcoming state elections in Karnataka. Although Ms. Lankesh supported the call, the Lingayat movement had other, enormously powerful leaders.

In August 2013, the activist Narendra Dabholkar, who campaigned against religious superstitions, was murdered. In August 2015, M. M. Kalburgi, a scholar and outspoken critic of idol worship among Hindus, was gunned down at his own doorstep. In February 2015, Govind Pansare, a Communist leader, community organizer and columnist, was killed in a small town near Mumbai.

Mr. Dhabolkar, Mr. Kalburgi and Mr. Pansare were murdered by assassins on motorbikes, who hid their faces with helmets and fled after the murder. Exactly as Ms. Lankesh was killed.

The murdered intellectuals also wrote in regional languages and worked as activists. Each of them shared the quality of being acceptable to the leftist groups and Dalit groups. They could bring together communities opposed to the Hindu right.

We don’t know yet who killed Ms. Lankesh, but various supporters of Mr. Modi, the B.J.P. and its parent organization, the Hindu nationalist mother ship, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, celebrated her murder on social media.

Sudipto Mondal, a journalist based in Bangalore, is working on a book about the life and death of Rohith Vemula and Dalit activism in India.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on September 14, 20DZ, on Page A8, in The International New York Times.

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‘At the Stroke of Midnight My Entire Family Was Displaced’


August marks the 70th anniversary of the end of British colonial rule in India and the creation of the two independent countries of India and Pakistan, carved along religious and political lines. More than 10 million people were uprooted. We asked readers how they or their families were affected. These are some of their stories.

The author’s mother, Rashida Begum, and father, Malik Fazal Haq, in photos taken around 10 years before partition.CreditCourtesy of Tariq Malik

‘Was he calling out for me?’

In 1947 I was 10. We lived in comfort in Jammu and Kashmir state.

We lost everything at the time of the creation of Pakistan. Things can be replaced, not lives.

My father, an intellectual and educationalist, was murdered. Eight of us crossed into Pakistan dressed in summer clothes and nothing else. Winter came and we had nothing to wear and no roof over our heads. By the following summer my feet had outgrown my shoes and I had to walk barefoot on scorching earth. My feet sometimes still feel that hot surface.

Even today I get nightmares about my father’s murder. As a physician I wonder how the end came. Was he in pain, was he cold, was he thirsty, was he calling out for me?


— Tariq Malik

Suman and Anand Khorana.CreditDr. A. B. Khorana

‘My father recalled hiding in a Muslim family’s house’

My father, Anand B. Khorana, was about 10 years old at the time of partition. His father was a civil engineer and the whole family (my grandparents, father and his five siblings) had recently moved into a new home they built as a mark of their “middle-class” status. The oldest child, a daughter, had recently become engaged. The family had lived for generations in the state of Punjab and could not conceive of living any place else. As my late father told it, everyone had heard rumblings about the state being divided into a Pakistani half and an Indian half, but few thought it would happen imminently.

At the stroke of midnight my entire family was displaced. Their land and home were deemed to be on the Pakistani side and in a few days it was pretty clear that a Hindu family, regardless of their prior status, was in danger. I don’t know all the details but, unlike most families who decided to emigrate immediately (many losing their lives on the trains in the process), my father’s family went into hiding for a few months. My father recalled hiding in a Muslim family’s house (a former employee of my grandfather’s).

Eventually, things calmed down and the family made the trek to India and resettled, initially in Delhi in refugee quarters. My grandfather was able to find a job similar to his prior one. All of their property, including the house they had recently built, was lost but the family was grateful to have made it out alive — unlike so many others. The only person believed lost was the eldest daughter’s fiancé but, a year later, she spotted him at a train station in Delhi. They married and had several children.

— Alok A. Khorana

The Ghosh family, c. 1972. The author is in her father’s arms.CreditCourtesy of Madhushree Ghosh

‘We carried the heavy utensils, because we thought copper was more valuable than silver’

My parents were young when they walked from what’s now Bangladesh to India. Baba called East Pakistan “home” until he died in 2004. His family, landowners in Dhaka, fled with their belongings; copper utensils, large bowls, plates. He used to say, “We never needed anything, so we didn’t know the value of money. We carried the heavy utensils, because we thought copper was more valuable than silver. We were children, what were we to do?

When Baba’s bank job moved him to New Delhi, he spent days recreating his childhood vegetable garden. Cabbage, cauliflower, peas, spinach, okra, we had it all. He used to say, “Our pumpkins were bigger than the sun!” and I would believe him. Everything in Bangladesh, the place he left, was better. The roses were more fragrant, the eggplants more purple, the fish were fresher — Delhi could never compete.

Ma was 12 when her family fled Barisal for Kolkata. They sold everything, including Maâ€s favorite school books. She mourned those books until she died, in 2008. But she was proud that she hadn’t marked any of them with a pen or pencil. “They were pristine,” she would say, “so Thakur da could sell them at a premium. That money helped us escape.”

— Madhushree Ghosh

The author’s father and mother, c. 1960.CreditCourtesy of Peter Jones Jr.

‘My siblings and I have been effectively stateless’

My father’s family was part of the British colonial administration. During partition my father was in Pakistan attending school while the rest of his family was in Pune, India. As hostilities erupted between Hindus and Muslims, my father was cut off from his family. He couldn’t get British citizenship because most of his papers were lost during the upheaval. So, in the ’50s, he made his way to the United Arab Emirates by ship and started a family there.

My siblings and I have been effectively stateless. Although we are familiar with Indian and Pakistani culture, we belonged to neither culture. We grew up in the Middle East, in Dubai, among other Asians but could not identify with them.

— S. Jones

The author’s father and mother in the late ’40s/early ’50s.Credit

‘He would never forgive himself if anything happened to her’

When partition was announced, my father, who worked for the British Indian Government, was posted in Bombay. He was advised that as a Muslim he would have better career opportunities in Pakistan. He was asked to report to offices in Rawalpindi as soon as possible. He left and my mother, Rosy, who was 20, and their six-month-old daughter stayed behind until he could arrange for their accommodation. Because of the chaos he could not come back to get them, so he asked my mother to take a train to Lahore. On the train a Sikh gentleman noticed my mother alone with an infant and asked her where she was going. When she told him Lahore, he was shocked and told her about the massacres that were taking place on trains going to Pakistan — my mother and father hadn’t known.

He said he was traveling to Amritsar (30 miles from Lahore) but would accompany her to Wagah, a border town between India and Pakistan, because he would never forgive himself if anything happened to her. He told my mother that if anyone asked, she was his daughter. He thought her name, Rosy, was fine since it was secular. But my sister’s name, Shahina, was distinctly Muslim, so if anyone asked her name was Nina.


He stayed with them until Wagah and walked with them to the Pakistani border, kissed them both on their foreheads and told them he wished he could take them all the way to Lahore, but he would not make it back alive.

My sister, who lives in Karachi, is still called Nina by everyone in the family. My mother insisted on that.

— Sohail Murad

The authorâ€s father, left, grandfather and grandmother, a few years after partition.CreditCourtesy of Kanwal Prakash Singh

‘We prayed as we imagined the worst. Almighty God had other plans.’

On Sept. 7, a bespectacled Sikh man, much like my father, was killed in town and a rumor spread that he had come to set fire to the local mosque.

The next day dislocated families from surrounding villages who had taken shelter in schoolyards, grain markets and other vulnerable locations were attacked. I can still hear the cries of people shot or stabbed outside the Gurdwara and the gunfire that began around 4 p.m., as the last train left the Jaranwala Railway Station, in Pakistan, and continued into the evening.

That night women and children were sheltering in a room on the second floor of the Gurdwara with instructions on what to do if the militia broke through the doors and entered the temple. The thought still gives me chills. The temperature outside was in the 90s Fahrenheit, but inside the heat was oppressive. Some men stayed on the main floor or on the rooftop lookout, armed with sticks, swords, a pistol and one double-barreled gun. We were certain our end was imminent. We prayed as we imagined the worst.

Almighty God had other plans. For the next three days we holed-up in the Gurdwara. Our ranks swelled with the addition of the injured who were able to escape. We heard rumors that we would be attacked on Sept. 12, after Friday prayers. But there was a knock at the giant door of the temple around 10 a.m. and four Sikh military officers ordered us to leave in ten minutes and said they would escort us to the caravan of refugees that was passing. Everyone scrambled and ran with the clothes on their backs, relieved and hopeful to live another day or die with others traveling toward the new border and sanctuary of India.

— Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh

Left to right, Zafar Abbas, Mazhar Abbas, Tariq Abbas, the author’s father, and other relatives, on a train from India to Pakistan.CreditCourtesy of Amber Abbas

‘I was probably the first member of my family to visit the home since 1947â€

My father was a refugee and a migrant. As his child I have lived a peripatetic life, but have always been able to maintain connections with my family in Pakistan. I lived in Aligarh while I was researching my dissertation and visited the home where my father and my grandmother were born. I met the son of the family who had migrated from Lahore and received the home as refugee property (though he had been born later, in independent India). I was probably the first member of my family to visit the home since 1947 and met people who remembered my family, who were known for their love of rooftop kite flying. The family who lives there now sent homemade sweets for me to take to my Pakistani family.

— Amber Abbas

My parents with me in Calcutta at my Mundan ceremony, c. 1954.CreditCourtesy of Ripudaman Malhotra

He spent days carrying two Muslims from the East to the West’

My mother’s younger brother lived in Jammu and must have been a lad of 15 at the time of the partition. He was aware of the mass violence around him, but he did not take up arms and perpetuate the violence. He was a strong swimmer, and he spent days carrying two Muslims from the East to the West and then two Hindus from the West to the East on his shoulders — back and forth. My uncle’s story reminds me that people can stop the cycle of violence.

— Ripudaman Malhotra

The author’s father, left, and grandfather.CreditCourtesy of Ritesh Batra

‘It was not a national tragedy for him, but a very personal one’

My paternal grandfather and grandmother moved to Bombay during partition with their two little sons. I shared a room with my grandfather growing up and heard stories of how things were before and silences about what happened during. In his last year my grandfather would often weep about partition. It was not a national tragedy for him, but a very personal one.

My maternal grandfather moved to Lucknow in India at the height of the violence. They lost many cousins and relations, but the immediate family made it safely. He restarted an optical shop called Lahore Opticals, named after the city of his birth, and became successful. When Hindu-Muslim strife breaks out in India, the shop is invariably targeted. But my grandfather never changed the name. His shop is now run by my uncle and is still named after the city they fled, now in Pakistan.


— Ritesh Batra

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Gandhi Won’t Leave India

But has it vanished?

Indians, like people anywhere, do not want to hate. They do not want to hug suspicions, fears. But there are those, very political, ambitious and selfish people — men, mostly — who want to use incipient suspicion and fear to control their fellow citizens, turn India into a Hindu rashtra. And bigots on the other side, extremists using the name of Islam, feed Hindu communalism with just what extremists need to stay in business: the violent “other.â

And they love to foment fear. Some fears are real as, for instance, the fear of terrorism, of armed attacks from across borders, of externally orchestrated insurrection. But many other fears are fiction, such as the fear of a Muslim population explosion, a Muslim jihad. And Pakistan’s unpredictable militaristic politics, ever keeping an already conflicted Kashmir in ferment, helps the fire burn.

Two ways of life face India today. A path that wants Indians to have freedom of conscience, thought and speech so that the best ideas and energies can be devoted to raising up the poor, the marginalized and the discriminated and making India a republic for all its citizens. And the road that wants India to be dominated by one political and religious order, one majoritarian grip on all, making India a nation of stark uniformity, a Hindu rashtra.

Who are the Indians seeking a Hindu nation? They are the followers of the Hindu part of the Two Nations theory. Hate, they say, the one who wears clothes different from yours. Mistrust the one who eats foods different from yours, speaks and writes differently, sings songs that are not yours and — most crucially, who prays to a god not yours. If he does all that and even questions some of your beliefs, he is antinational, so just tell him to get out. So it goes, the new majoritarian rhetoric.

Democracy is about majority rule, not majoritarian tyranny. What is under attack in India is not just Hindu-Muslim concord, but the right of all minorities — ethnic, linguistic, regional, political, social and cultural — to be themselves, to be equal, to be free. Dissent, free speech and the freedom to choose with confidence and without fear are under strain.

On Gandhi’s 75th birthday in񎦘, Albert Einstein wrote in a book of felicitations, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” When Einstein said “will scarce believe,” he had in mind Gandhi’s distinctive capacity for nonviolent resistance.

Einstein knew of Gandhiâs having been pitched out of a train in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, because of the color of his skin. He knew that Gandhi led the subsequent resistance by Indians in South Africa against discriminatory treatment, and he knew of his nonviolent ability to suffer persecution and humiliation without physical retaliation.


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Gandhi bore no hatred for his oppressors, did not speak or write a harsh word about them but, with his large and growing band of associates, offered the toughest resistance through what he called satyagraha, or soul force. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela found this capacity in Gandhi compelling, exemplary and even sublime.

Gandhi’s satyagraha was famously illustrated in the Salt March in 1930, when he walked 240 miles with his followers to the village of Dandi on the Arabian Sea in western India. The British had banned the villagers from making salt through seawater reclamation unless they paid a tax. Gandhi, who described it as a “battle of right against might,” lifted a fistful of salt and auctioned it, repudiating the tax and challenging the empire.

At the saltworks nearby, colonial police attacked Gandhi’s nonviolent followers. An American reporter, Webb Miller, who witnessed them being struck with murderous blows from lathis, or police batons, wrote, “So far as I could observe the volunteers implicitly obeyed Gandhi’s creed of nonviolence. In no case did I see a volunteer even raise an arm to deflect the blows from lathis.” Gandhi’s march and breaking the prohibition on salt shook the Raj.

Was Gandhi a perfect man or leader? Certainly not. “Ask Mrs. Gandhi,†he would say. He was his own most exacting critic and wrote frank admissions of his flaws and failures.

The Gandhi of a hundred battles, scarred but not fallen, is facing his greatest challenge in India today. The challenge of neglect, of obfuscation, of cunning co-option. Marigolds are still heaped on his images, the more plentifully by those who hate his truth-telling spirit. Gandhi refuses to be smothered. I will not leave you, he seems to say once more. To another generation of enemies of peace and destroyers of social trust, Gandhi speaks yet again, the voice of right against might. And is again, unbelievable.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi teaches a course on Indian Civilization at Ashoka University in Sonipat, India.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 15, 2017, on Page A1 of the National edition with the headline: The force of Gandhi won’t leave.

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India’s Turn Toward Intolerance


Indian police officers clashed with students during a protest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ban on the sale of cows for slaughter in May.

Arun Sankar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory as prime minister of India in 2014 was borne on his promises to unleash his country’s economic potential and build a bright future while he played down the Hindu nationalist roots of his Bharatiya Janata Party.

But, under Mr. Modi’s leadership, growth has slowed, jobs have not materialized, and what has actually been unleashed is virulent intolerance that threatens the foundation of the secular nation envisioned by its founders.

Since Mr. Modi took office, there has been an alarming rise in mob attacks against people accused of eating beef or abusing cows, an animal held sacred to Hindus. Most of those killed have been Muslims. Mr. Modi spoke out against the killings only last month, not long after his government banned the sale of cows for slaughter, a move suspended by Indias Supreme Court. The ban, enforcing cultural stigma, would have fallen hardest on Muslims and low-caste Hindus traditionally engaged in the meat and leather industry.

It would also have struck a blow against Mr. Modi’s supposed priorities: employment, economic growth and boosting exports. The $16 billion industry employs millions of workers and generated $4 billion in export income last year.


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More disturbing was his party’s decision to name Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu warrior-priest, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, and a springboard to national leadership. Mr. Adityanath has called India™s Muslims “a crop of two-legged animals that has to be stopped” and cried at one rally, “We are all preparing for religious war!”

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This development led the analyst Neerja Chowdhury to observe: “India is moving right. Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

On Tuesday, India’s film censor board, headed by a Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart apparently intent on protecting Mr. Modi and the party from criticism, ruled that a documentary film about one of India’s most famous sons, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, cannot be screened unless the director cuts the words “cow,” “Hindu India,” “Hindutva view of India” — meaning Hindu nationalism — and “Gujarat,” where Mr. Modi was chief minister at the time of deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

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Firebrand Hindu Cleric Ascends India’s Political Ladder

Adityanath did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.

In March, when the Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide electoral victory in Uttar Pradesh, political prognosticators expected Mr. Modi to make a safe choice Manoj Sinha, a cabinet minister known for his diligence and loyalty to the party. On the morning of the announcement, an honor guard had been arranged outside his village.

But by midmorning, it was clear that something unusual was going on. A chartered flight had been sent to pick up Adityanath and take him to Delhi for a meeting with Amit Shah, the party president. At 6 p.m. the party announced it had appointed him as minister, sending a ripple of shock through India’s political class.

They were shocked because Adityanath is a radical, but also because he is ambitious, even rebellious. As recently as January, he walked out of the party’s executive meeting, reportedly because he was not allowed to speak. Mr. Modi is not known to have much tolerance for rivals.

The appointment “invests a certain amount of power in Yogi Adityanath that cannot be easily taken away,” said Ashutosh Varshney, a professor of political science and international studies at Brown University.

“Modi has been either unwilling to stop his rise, or unable to stop his rise,” he said.

As a young man, Adityanath’s passion was politics, not religion. One of seven children born to a forest ranger in a mountain area famous for producing tough, disciplined military men, Adityanath, born Ajay Singh Bisht, found his vocation in college as an activist in the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a right-wing Hindu organization.

He was so engrossed in the group’s work that the first two or three times he was summoned by a distant relative, the head priest of the Gorakhnath Temple, he could not find the time,” he said.

But religion and politics were fast converging. Gorakhnath Temple, long patronized by Nepal’s royal family, had a tradition of militancy: Digvijay Nath, the head priest until 1969, was arrested for exhorting Hindu militants to kill Mahatma Gandhi days before he was shot. His successor, Mahant Avaidyanath, urged Hindu mobs in 1992 to tear down aಐth-century mosque and build a temple there, setting off some of the bloodiest religious riots in Indiaâ€s recent history.


Members of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, or Hindu Youth Brigade, a vigilante organization, at a rally in Unnao, India.

Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

When Adityanath announced his intention to join the temple, his father, Anand Singh Bisht, forbade it, he said in an interview. But Adityanath left anyway. Years later, Mr. Bisht burst into tears at the memory.


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Mr. Bisht did not learn that his son had become a monk until four months after the fact, he said. Mr. Bisht rushed to see his son at the temple, and found him transformed, his head shaven and his ear pierced in a painful ceremony said to unlock yogic powers.

“I said, ‘Son, what have you done?’ I was shocked,” he said. “That was my child’s desire and so he was there. Then I gave my permission to go ahead. I had no choice.”

Adityanath won a seat in Parliament, the first of five consecutive terms. Among his advantages was a new group he had formed: the Hindu Yuva Vahini, or Hindu Youth Brigade, a vigilante organization. The volunteers, now organized to the village level and said by leaders to number 250,000, show up in force where Muslims are rumored to be bothering Hindus.

Vijay Yadav, 21, a volunteer lounging at Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur on a recent day, said he had recently mobilized 60 or 70 young men to beat a Muslim accused of cow slaughter. They stopped, he said, only because the police intervened.

“All the Hindus got together and the first slap was given by me,” he said proudly. “If they do something wrong, fear is what works best. If you do something wrong, we will stop you. If you talk too much, we will kill you. This is our saying for Muslims.”

During the first five years after the vigilante group was formed, 22 religious clashes broke out in the districts surrounding Gorakhpur, a city in Uttar Pradesh, in many cases with Adityanath’s active encouragement, said Manoj Singh, a journalist in Gorakhpur. In 2007, Adityanath was arrested as he led a procession toward neighborhoods seething with religious tension.

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Even then, Mr. Singh recalled, the officer who arrested Adityanath stopped first to touch his feet as a gesture of reverence.

For India’s frenetic 24-hour cable television world, Adityanath’s first months as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh were a windfall. Arriving in Lucknow, a city weary of a corrupt bureaucracy, he projected a refreshing toughness and austerity.


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His first orders were unabashedly populist. The police were dispatched in “anti-Romeo squads” to detain youths suspected of harassing women. Inspectors shut down dozens of meat-processing plants, a major source of revenue for area Muslims, for license problems.

Vishal Pratap Singh, a Lucknow-based television journalist, noted that Adityanath was a totally changed man on camera,” careful to avoid comments offensive to Muslims.

Still, Mr. Singh said, his ratings are sky-high, and the reason is obvious.

Like Modi, he speaks for the Hindus,” he said. “He is a staunch pro-Hindu guy. Within his heart, he is a totally anti-Muslim person. That is the reason he is so likable.â€


A closed slaughterhouse in Uttar Pradesh. The Indian government has banned the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter in a move to protect animals considered holy by many Hindus.

Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press

Political observers in Delhi are watching him as one might watch an audition. Journalists filed reports of his first 100 days last week, and some were lukewarm, noting his failure to contain violent crime.

Neerja Chowdhury, an analyst, said Adityanath has two years to establish himself as an effective administrator.

â€Remember, he is 20 years younger than Modi, and he is a known doer, so if he manages to deliver on some fronts, he would then become a possible candidate in 2024, she said.

“India is moving right, that is a given,” she added. “Whether India moves further right, and Modi begins to be looked upon as a moderate, I think that only time will tell.”

Adityanath may be interested in rebranding himself a mainstream politician, but his followers in the vigilante group do not all agree.


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During the days after the election, some 5,ዀ men came forward to join the organization every day, prompting organizers to stop accepting applicants, said P. K. Mall, the group’s general secretary.

Sonu Yadav, 24, of Gorakhpur, who has served in the group for five years, said he had been disappointed by Mr. Modi’s tenure.

“We voted for Modi because Yogi endorsed him, but we are disillusioned,” he said. He went on to refer to the 2002 riots in the state Mr. Modi led, which his critics say he allowed to rage for several days, leading to more than 1,000 deaths.

“All of us in our colony felt that Modi would allow us to kill Muslims, he said. “Muslims were scared. But nothing happened. When Yogi became chief minister, they were scared again.”

For now, as Adityanath establishes a more mainstream reputation, Mr. Yadav and his friends have been told by H.Y.V. leadership to cease all violent activities and instead perform community service. Vijay Yadav, Sonu’s friend, openly chafed at the new orders.

“This thing is going on in Yogi’s head that my shirt should not get a stain,” he said. “I couldn’t care less for his stained shirt. I can’t do good work and avoid getting a stain.”

He noted, by way of example, the recent beating death of a 62-year-old Muslim man whom vigilantes abducted and interrogated about a neighbor™s alleged love affair with a Hindu girl.

Vijay Yadav’s comment on the man’s death was a local proverb: âAlong with the wheat,” he said, “small insects will get crushed.”

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Caste Battles Threaten India’s Grand Hindu Coalition

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Vigilante Justice in India

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Hindu Group Claims Christians Tried Forced Conversions in India

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The Cows Between Us

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