The Uttar Pradesh Police on Saturday said that a man who was tonsured by a Hindutva outfit, forced to shout “Jai Shri Ram” and raise slogans against Nepal Prime Minister KP Oli is an Indian national and resident of Varanasi, ANI reported. The police added that the man was paid Rs 1,000 to be a part of the incident, the video of which was widely shared on social media on Friday.
The man was initially believed to be a citizen of Nepal. In the video, a group of people were heard forcing him to shout slogans against the neighbouring country, and praise India for providing Nepalis with employment opportunities. The man, who speaks Nepali, was also coerced into chanting “Bharat Mata ki Jai”.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi, Amit Pathak said six people have been arrested in the case. He added that Arun Pathak, the convenor of the Vishwa Hindu Sena, is responsible for the incident. “Today, we also met the man whose head was shaved,” he said. “He is a registered voter and a resident of Varanasi. He lives in the Varanasi Jal Sansthan area with his parents who are government employees.” Pathak added that the man also has an Aadhaar card.
In a statement, the police said the man did not have any memory of his ancestors living in Nepal, according to The Hindu. On July 16, Rajesh Rajbhar and Jai Ganesh, two of the accused, met the man and invited him for a programme. “He went with them and that they paid him Rs 1,000 to get the video made,” the police statement said. “We are collecting more facts.”
Superintendent of Police Vikas Chandra Tripathi told The Indian Express that the man suffers from mental health problems. “We are not sure if he has roots in Nepal, but for two generations they have lived here in India,” he added. “The man in the video was told that there is a programme and he has to get his hair shaved and will get money. The people who took him with them knew him since childhood. He is undergoing treatment for a mental disorder.”
The incident came amid tensions between India and Nepal over the Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura areas. On July 13, Oli had also claimed that Hindu deity Ram was born in Nepal and that Ayodhya was a small village in his country, not a city in Uttar Pradesh in India. He also accused India of “cultural oppression and encroachment”. A day later, Nepal’s foreign ministry said Oli’s remarks had no political implications and was not intended to debase Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh or hurt anybody’s sentiments. Earlier this month, Oli claimed that the Indian government and his political rivals were plotting to oust him from power.