Vineet Narain, senior journalist and the chairman of the NGO The Braj Foundation, and two others have been booked under 18 charges by the Uttar Pradesh Police after they accused Ram Temple Trust member and leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Champat Rai, of aiding his brothers in land grab in their hometown in Bijnor.
On Tuesday, Narain released a video on YouTube in which he says that Rai’s brother Sanjay Bansal had filed the complaint against him, Alka Lahoti, whose land has been allegedly grabbed, and one Rajinish on Saturday. Claiming that he received a call from Lahoti, a Non-Resident Indian (NRI) and a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangathan (RSS), who privately runs a gaushala (cow shelter) in Bijnor with her husband, Narain says that he merely forwarded her complaint about Rai’s brothers and friends grabbing Lahoti’s gaushala land. And following this, he wrote about the incident on Facebook and Twitter.
According to a report by NDTV, Narain accused Rai of helping his brothers grab 20,000 square meters of land in a cow shelter owned by Lahoti and that she had been trying to get the encroachers evicted since 2018. She had also appealed to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to take action against them.
On June 16, Narain wrote about the incident on Twitter, sharing Lahoti’s tweet with the alleged complaint from 2018 and adding that she told him on the phone that Rai was involved in the matter due to “family ties”.
In a Facebook post on June 19, he wrote: “In the case of this lady Mrs Alka Lahoti from Nagina (Bijnor, UP), whom I came to know only three days back through phone and [whose documents I examined], I saw similarity in our plight. You serve Hindu cause; selflessly with dedication and as a result you get kicked by RSS/ BJP leadership, because they don’t like your selfless service to [the] Hindu cause. They want to rope in Scam Masters in the name of Hindu Dharm Sewa.”
Narain said in the YouTube video that the complaint has been registered against him by Bansal, who claims that Narain’s social media post has hampered Rai’s reputation in society. The FIR also accuses the journalist of several other charges, including “promoting enmity on the grounds of religion”, providing false evidence, and cheating.
Among the 18 charges pressed on Narain, one is of trespassing in Rai’s area. However, Narain claimed in his video that he has not visited the area in several years and hence it is completely baseless. He also said that pressing so many charges together is “making a joke out of law.”
Bansal said to NDTV that he had contacted Narain to clear the “facts of the case”, but Rajnish picked up the call and “misbehaved with [him] and threatened to kill [him],” and hence the complaint also names him.
Silverscreen India tried reaching out to Narain’s The Braj Foundation which refused to respond on the matter.