24 January, 2021

The Purity Complex

A sadhvi has a bizarre logic to clean up Akhlaq’s village

Sanjay Rawat
The Purity Complex
  • The Temple: A Shiva temple that was the rallying point for the mob that lynched Mohammed Akhlaq over a beef rumour
  • The Controversy: The new priestess wants to ‘purify’ the village for ‘cow slaughter’ using gangajal and cow urine
  • The Sadhvi: The new priestess is a former lawyer and follower of Mahant Hari Giri of the Juna Akhada


It’s the village where Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched on September 28 on a baseless rumour of beef-eating. It’s the temple from which loudspeakers were used to hail the lynchmob. And its new priestess, the 35-year-old Sadhvi Harsiddhi Giriji Maharaj, is determined to keep the village and the nondescript Shiva temple in controversy with a ‘purification’ ritual involving the use of gangajal and gaumutra, or cow urine.

For now, the district administration has staved off the ritual. But, as investigation continues three months on into the...



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