News Analysis |
Well-known social activist Swami Agnivesh was beaten up by a mob in Pakur district of Jharkhand on Tuesday. Chief Minister Raghuvar Das has asked the State Home Secretary to order a probe.
“I’m 80 years old and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. I don’t know who the attackers were, who their leader is and which organisation they belong to… the government should investigate and take action against them,” Swami Agnivesh told local journalists. “I was told that people from the BJP Yuva Morcha and ABVP [student wing of the RSS] were protesting outside the hotel against me… I told them they could come in and talk to me, but nobody came. And when I came out of the hotel they attacked me.”
Swami Agnivesh was injured and his clothes were torn. He was taken to a local hospital. “I’m alive today by God’s grace… it was a murderous attack… I don’t know why they assaulted me,” he said. The activist was on his way to Litipara in Pakur district of Jharkhand to participate in an event organized by the Pahariya tribal community.
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The mob raised slogans like “Swami Agnivesh wapas jao” (Swami Agnivesh go back) and “Jai Sri Ram”. He was also shown black flags. The assailants were reportedly upset with Swami Agnivesh’s visit to the State, believing him to be hand-in-glove with Christian missionaries to instigate tribes in the State. They had been camping outside his hotel since morning.
“What I gather is that this was not a planned protest,” said the BJP Yuva Morcha’s Jharkhand president Amit Kumar Singh. “I can comment only after I get all the details,” he said. Pakur Superintendent of Police Shailendra Kumar said the district administration was not aware of Swami Agnivesh’s visit. “As soon as we got the news that he was being attacked we reached the spot and detained some people.”
A video of the alleged attack with a large crowd thrashing the social activist and his supporters did the rounds of social media and TV channels. Swami Agnivesh has alleged that there was no police presence at the venue, and the local SP and the district magistrate did not heed to his request to come to the spot. He has demanded that the guilty be identified from the footage available and action taken against them.
From political leaders to activists and journalists, everyone condemned “BJP” goons’ attack on Swami Agnivesh on Tuesday. Tejashwi Yadav, RJD leader and the leader of the opposition in Bihar strongly condemned “the murderous attack on Swami Agnivesh in BJP ruling state Jharkhand by BJP goons” and said “these state sponsored BJP gundas don’t have any fear of law”. Asking the BJP to apologize, Yadav also demanded for the culprits to be caught.
Interestingly and co-incidentally, on Monday the Supreme Court passed an order asking the state to “ensure order and prevent mobocracy”. Reminding the apex court judgment, Congress’ Randeep Surjewala too attacked the “BJP goons” in a tweet, saying; “BJP goons openly flout the Supreme Court verdict on punishing ‘Violence by Mobocracy’. Horrific, gruesome & murderous attack on Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand today is a painful reminder that ‘Lynch Mob Mentality’ rules with abetment of BJP Govt.
I’m 80 years old and this is the first time something like this has happened to me. I don’t know who the attackers were, who their leader is and which organisation they belong to… the government should investigate and take action against them
Saying “this is the contempt that the BJP has for the rule of law & the SC,” senior advocate Prashant Bhushan tweeted; “Swami Agnivesh brutally assaulted by BJP Yuva morcha goons in BJP ruled Jharkhand on the day the SC delivered a tough judgment against mob vigilantism.”
“Is this the way to react if someone expresses an opinion you don’t agree with,” asked historian Irfan Habib calling the incident “shameful”. Asking “is there any decency left,” senior journalist Shekhar Gupta said; “Shocking & shameful the manhandling of Swami Agnivesh. He’s a decent man who never meant or did harm to anybody. And he is 80, for heaven’s sake.” Advisory member of CBFC and former convener of BJP Samvadcell Khemchand Sharma, however, called the story of BJP workers attacking a “backroom Congress politician” Swami Agnivesh “fabricated”. “We have strong doubts on reports that ABVP & BJP Yuva Morcha workers mishandled Swami Agnivesh ji,” he said in a tweet. “He is a Swami just to confuse people, otherwise full time back room politician,” he added.