Two days after a controversial protest against "colonial laws" was held at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, where anti-Muslim and inflammatory slogans were raised, the Delhi Police arrested six people on 10 August.
While the police has said that further investigation is underway, the six people who were arrested are Ashwini Upadhyay, Vinod Sharma, Deepak Singh, Vinit Ek Kranti, Preet Singh, and Deepak.
They have been booked under section 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as, under the DDMA Act concerned with the contravention of COVID-19 protocol.
But who are these men?
Deepak Singh Carried Out Protests Against Farmers at Singhu Border
Deepak is a resident of northeast Delhi's Karawal Nagar and calls himself Deepak Singh Hindu. He is known to Narsinghanand Saraswati of Dasna Devi temple and is a close aide of Hindutva leader Ragini Tiwari. He has been seen with both of them on several occasions.
He is linked to a number of Hindutva outfits such as Hindu Force and Hindu Parishad, among others.
At the protest site he can be heard saying:
"Hindu society has now woken up and is showing their true strength, that we can give and take lives for our country. But, we are pained that we are being stopped. Metro stations and cross roads have been blocked, our buses are being stopped. On one end borders have been sealed for years (referring to the farmer protests), they are being fed cashews and almonds, while on the other hand nationalists are being held back. The country has understood this and will respond to it."
With slogans of Jai Sri Ram constantly being raised at the event, he said the future of Bharat, was Sanatan Dharma.
"I also want to say, keep showing your strength the same way. If you come out on the streets and unite, then all the anti-nationals will be at your feet and call you their jijaji (brother-in-law)," he said and laughed.
This is not the first time that Singh has been present or initiated such a protest or rally. He mobilised protesters against the farmers' protest at the Singhu border for two days. This was a day after 28 January, when a mob had stormed the farmers' protest site and raised provocative slogans. These are some of the slogans that were chanted:
“Khalistaniyon ko bhagao (Chase away the Khalistanis)”
“Dilli police lath bajao, hum tumhare saath hain (Beat them up Delhi police, we are with you)"
On 29 January, in a Facebook live he said he was going to the Singhu border and encouraged other people to join him in large numbers so they could vacate the farmers' protests together. "When anti-nationals can get together, then we also should do that. Otherwise, the situation will get very tense," Singh said while talking about the protest site at different borders of Delhi.
"The spark (farmers' protests) will soon engulf our homes, if we do not end the protests soon," he said. "Every nationalist, bhakt, should come there."
He also protested against what Hindutva supporters call land Jihad, earlier on 8 January. The group alleged that Muslims construct mosques and madrasas anywhere. "Mosques and madrasas are made in the middle of the road and no action is taken. Why are there different laws for temples and mosques. If they have a problem with the speakers at temple, then how can there not be a problem with the speakers in a mosque?" Singh said.
Other than Deepak Singh, self-styled Hindutva activists Ragini Tiwari was also present at this event. So was another accused arrested by Delhi Police for the Jantar Mantar protest.
Vinod Sharma Has Been Seen With Hindutva Leaders
Vinod Sharma, who goes by the name Aazad Vinod, was also present at the same protest against so-called "land jihad" with Tiwari, Deepak and others. Vinod alleged that Muslims are dealt with leniently when it comes to mosques that are constructed illegally.
Sharma calls himself the national president of Sudarshan Vahini. The organisation identifies itself as a 'Kattar Hindu group'.
Again, like Deepak, he was also involved in mobilising the mob that reached the farmers' protest according to his Twitter and Facebook. More recently, he was part of the demonstration by right-wing groups in Dwarka, against the construction of a Hajj House. The protesters said that this could turn into "another Tablighi Jamaat situation where people are spreading disease".
He has been photographed with BJP leaders Sambit Patra and Kapil Mishra. He was also photographed recently with Sanjay Pandey, the president of Maharashtra BJP's cell for North Indians.
Other than BJP leaders he has been photographed with Narsinghanand, Ragini Tiwari and Sudarshan TV head Suresh Chavhanke. He is also seen with lawyer Prashant Umrao Patel, who has often being caught spreading fake news. He is the standing counsel in Supreme Court for the state of Goa.
Vinod's photo is also on of the poster for the 8 August event with the two main organisers, SC advocate Ashwini Upadhyay and Bhai Preet Singh.
He uploaded several photos from the spot, of himself amidst the crowd.
The caption read: "Sanatani Hindu organisations were reaching from all over the place, I would like to request all prominent and experienced people that such unity should be shown in Delhi every three months."
In a Facebook live from his profile on 6 August he says that these laws are needed as, "If these laws are not initiated, then our country will seize to be known as Hindustan and will be renamed as Mughlistaan in the future. Every Hindu will struggle to survive like they do in Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq."
Vineet Kranti's Facebook Timeline Has Hateful Rants Against Islam
Vineet Kranti, whose real name is Vineet Bajpai as confirmed to The Quint by a Delhi Police official, is a part of a group called the Mahakal Youth Brigade. He calls himself a dharma rakshak (defender of religion.)
His Facebook timeline is replete with rants and hateful remarks against Muslims and Islam.
In his posts he refers to Islam as "dirty" and links it to "terrorism".
"We have made the demand for five laws, but along with that I would like to add another. That India should be rid of Islam," he says.
There are more details about the "five laws" in the next section.
He goes on to say that Islam as a religion is itself a lie. "You ask me about my (Bhagvad) Gita and I will prove to you that the scripture has come from the mouth of my God. They say Quran has come from the skies (asmaani kitab). Alright, so if there is Allah why is there no Allhi (woman God). Tell me. They have no response."
On his YouTube Channel, which is called MYB (Mahakal Youth Brigade) news, which has 48 subscribers, he says he will run every news on 'jihadis'.
On 6 August, Vineet shared a video of Narsinghanand where he brings up the 8 August event.
Preet Singh Says, 'Will Come Back to Delhi in Full Strength'
"Mujhko police ne utha liya hai (The police have picked me up)," Preet Singh said on the telegram group at around 2:00 am at night. This is the group where all the coordination for the Bharat Jodo aandolan is taking place.
A close associate of Ashwini Upadhyay is Bhai Preet Singh. He has over 53,000 likes on his Facebook page where he is registered as a public figure. He refers to himself as a 'proud Hindu'. He is the founding president of the Save India Foundation. Their agenda is getting rid of colonial laws and welcoming new uniform laws. The five most important of which are:
Uniform education (samaan shiksha)
Uniform civil code (samaan nagrik samhita)
Control on conversions (dharmataran niyantran)
Control on intruders (ghuspeet niyantran)
Population control (jansankhya niyantran)
"Ashwini Upadhyay ji aap court sambhaalo, hum zameen sambhaalenge. Ashwini Upadhyay, you handle the courts. We will handle the work on the ground," he says to a massive crowd.
As the slogans made at the protest site went viral on social media, a day later, he said through another video, "I want to clarify that no one from our organisation raised slogans against any religion."
Acknowledging that mistakes had been made by 'kids', he said, "They are kids and kids make mistakes, yes he made a mistake. We are trying to find out who he is. We have reached out to various organisations. After knowing where he has come from, which organisation he is from, we will explain to him that what he did was wrong," he says, adding that the protest was in the interest of the nation and this is a conspiracy to defame their cause.
He said, the protest and its issues will be back to Delhi. "I also want to announce that in the upcoming Hindu New Year, we will come back to Delhi with full strength," he said in this video.
Ashwini Upadhyay: Former Delhi BJP Spokesperson
And last but not the least, the person most talked about from the accused list is Ashwini Upadhyay.
Upadhyay is a Supreme Court lawyer and former spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party's Delhi unit. He continues to be a BJP leader. In July 2021, he filed a PIL in the Supreme Court for 'One Nation One Penal Code'. He had referred to the IPC as colonial in this plea.
It is this same agenda that led to Upadhyay coming up with the Bharat Jodo Movement, under the Save India Foundation.
He was associated with the Aam Aadmi Party during its initial years but was expelled for "anti-party activities" in 2014 after which he joined the BJP.
One of the first mentions of the 8 August event can be seen back in June through the following tweet.
A month later, Upadhyay tweeted his picture with film director Vivek Agnihotri and referred to the event. A telegram group was also made in the same month. 8 August was picked as a day to get rid of these 'colonial laws' as it is the 79th anniversary of the Quit India Movement.
He is the organiser of the event. In the run up to the 8 August event. Upadhyay can be seen in a video with Baba Ramdev on 4 August. "For the 8 August Bharat Jodo movement, my brother Ashwini Upadhyay as well as the nationalist heroes, come to Jantar Mantar based on the numbers that are permissible under COVID-19 protocols," Ramdev says.
Hours before his detention, Upadhyay uploaded a video in which he said he had filed a complaint with the Delhi Police. "I do not know these people, I have never met them or seen them. I did not call them either. If after we leave, such a video was made, it is being done to defame us. If it is a fake video, then it is being done to defame our movement."
Hours after this complaint, Upadhyay was called in for questioning by Delhi Police.
(The Quint is trying to get more information about the sixth person arrested, Deepak Kumar. This copy will be updated as and when we get more details.)