New Delhi :
Swami Agnivesh was manhandled today near the BJP office in Delhi, where he had gone to pay his last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This is the second attack in a month on the 79-year-old social activist, who was beaten in Jharkhand by a mob that allegedly included BJP workers.
"I had gone to pay my respects to Vajpayee ji. Because of the police pickets, I had to walk down the last stretch… suddenly a group of people came and attacked us. There were two-three of us and they were quite a few. They beat us badly, pushed us around, abused us and knocked off my turban," Mr Agnivesh told NDTV on the phone.
"They kept shouting ‘he’s a traitor, he’s a traitor, beat him’," he added.
In a mobile phone video of today’s attack, the saffron-robed Swami Agnivesh is chased, heckled and pushed around by a group as he keeps walking, trying to shield himself. His headgear is yanked by one man and a woman is seen holding her slipper, as if to beat him.
Mr Vajpayee, one of India’s tallest leaders, a three-time prime minister and the BJP’s patriarch, died yesterday at 93. His body was kept at the BJP’s new office on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya road for tributes before his funeral with full state honours.
On July 17, Swami Agnivesh was thrashed, punched and kicked by a mob allegedly of BJP workers in Jharkhand’s Pakur. In one image of the horrific attack, the activist was on the ground, his arms raised in a defensive stance against the crowd, his clothes ripped. The attackers were allegedly members of the BJP Yuva Morcha or youth workers.
"It was a lynch mob. A mob of 100-150 people attacked me. I was pushed and I fell. I was on the ground, my clothes torn… they accused me of supporting gau maas (beef). They raised slogans of Jai Sri Ram. Abused me," Swami Agnivesh told NDTV later.
"With folded hands I kept saying — what’s the problem, what is my mistake, why are you angry? Nobody listened to me."
The BJP, which rules Jharkhand, denied any links to the attackers but one of its leaders appeared to justify the attack saying that "Swami Agnivesh’s ‘track record’ is such that the reaction doesn’t come as a surprise".