Sitapur: More than a week after he was charged for allegedly uttering rape threats in Sitapur, Mahant Bajrang Muni, manager of Shri Laxmandas Udasin Ashram, was detained on Wednesday by Sitapur police.
On the basis of evidence gathered, authorities added many more accusations against Bajrang, including fostering hostility between two groups.
On April 8, Sitapur police filed a criminal complaint against Bajrang, 38, based on footage that had gone viral on social media. By the evening, Bajrang had made an apology.
Prashant Kumar, Additional Director General, Law and Order, confirmed the arrest.
Bajrang was then brought before a local court, which sentenced him to judicial detention, according to an official. Outside the ashram, fans protested after the arrest. In and around the ashram, PAC and local police troops have been deployed to deal with any conflict.
Since his arrival in Sitapur two years ago, Bajrang has been in the headlines due to a land dispute. The majority of these disagreements centre on property around the ashram, also known as Badi Sangat.
Last week, social media users shared recordings supposedly depicting Bajrang Muni threatening to rape women from another group if a single Hindu lady is mistreated.
On April 2, when a Kalash Yatra arrived outside a mosque in Khairabad, Bajrang reportedly uttered the comment. He was apparently seen on the video seated in a four-wheeler, surrounded by a mob and police officers, supposedly making the comment.
He issued a statement after the video went viral, claiming that it was misrepresented and out of context. Later on April 8, Muni issued an apology: “To all the mothers and sisters, I would like to apologise. If my video, which is viral, has hurt them, please forgive me… I respect all women.”
The National Commission for Women requested his arrest after learning of the remarks.
Apart from the hate speech charge, police said Bajrang Muni is also facing charges related to a fight in which he was injured. Piyush Singh, Circle Officer, City (Sitapur), had previously stated that Bajrang had also filed three complaints against local citizens, all of which were linked to land and Badi Sangat. Anil Kumar Rastogi, SDM Sadar, had previously rejected any land issue involving Badi Sangat.
According to those who know Bajrang Muni in Khairabad and the surrounding districts of Sitapur, he is a native of Pratapgarh’s Raniganj area and had his early schooling in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore district.