A baba who made a difference to the life of Gujjars

A baba who made a difference to the life of Gujjars

Gujjars in Morena in Chambal talk of Baba under whose influence they quit liquor consumption and follow austerity in marriage and death rituals. (DH Photo)

At a time when sadhus, sadhvis and babas have entered the poll narrative of Madhya Pradesh, Gujjars, a muscular community in the state is in the throes of a social transformation, thanks to a baba based in neighbouring Rajasthan.

In the Morena parliamentary seat in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, a prominent Gujjar leader, addressed election meetings to ensure that BSP candidate Kartar Singh Bhadana did not cut into the Congress votes to the benefit of BJP candidate Narendra Singh Tomar.

However, for the community members in the scores of villages in both Morena and Bhind, it is Baba Harigiri Maharaj whose words weigh more.

Gurjar youths have taken to YouTube to popularise the message of the Baba, whom they call “Shri Shri 1008 Shri Hari Giri Maharaj Ji”. Gujjars are an ethnic, agricultural and pastoral community, and like the Jats, they are assertive.

“Baba’s work is apolitical. He has brought change to our lives. Earlier, our youths used to drink a lot. There used to be family fights. Under the influence of Baba, 80% of Gujjars have stopped consuming liquor. If someone is caught consuming, the community imposes a fine of Rs 11,000 on them. This has really brought a change,” says V P Singh, a member of the community from the village of Sumawali village.

The fine for anybody found selling liquor in these ‘no liquor zones’ is Rs 51,000. Liquor contractors in the community were told to surrender their contracts.

For cops deployed on poll duty in Chambal, this transformation has come as a huge breather.

Raj Kumar Korku, an assistant sub-inspector in Morena, whom this correspondent met in a village road in course of a constituency tour, said, “the liquor consumption in the region has greatly come down”.

He had administered the oath of prohibition to youths in 170 villages, mostly in Morena in Chambal two years back.

“Hence, the number of scuffles during elections have also seen a drastic fall. This baba has done us some good. Gujjars living in villages here consider him a god,” Korku said.

Limits for spending big on marriage functions have also been fixed after Baba’s intervention.