The year 2002 was a difficult time for India. Spanning across three days in late February, a spate of barbaric communal incidents left the Western state of Gujarat burning. Following the bloodshed of the Godhra riots, several minor inter-communal clashes took place throughout the country that year. The same year, two months following the savagery in Gujarat, the mahant or head priest of the Gorakhnath Math, a Hindu temple in Gorakhpur, and a rising political star in Eastern Uttar Pradesh, put together a number of unemployed youth to form an anti-minority organisation which was named the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV). Undying support to their patron and founder and a firm vow to turn India into a Hindu nation were perhaps the threads that bound the group founded by Yogi Adityanath.
Since the moment of its formation, the HYV had steadily been embroiled in communal violence. “The HYV ran an aggressively toxic campaign, turning even small events into full-blown communal wars and projecting minorities as the enemies of Hindus,” wrote Dhirendra K. Jha in his recent book, “Yogi Adityanath and the Hindu Yuva Vahini”. Focusing on the meat eating habits of the Muslims, specifically cow meat, and how it allegedly created a tendency to incite violence, the HYV spread its communal wings across Gorakhpur and other parts of Eastern UP to soon make Adityanath the face of saffron politics in UP.
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