Hours after social activist Swami Agnivesh died of illness at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in Delhi on Friday, former interim chief of CBI and retired IPS officer M Nageswara Rao sparked a controversy, calling his death a “good riddance”, and tweeting that Agnivesh was “Anti-Hindu” and a “Lion in sheep clothes”.
While the tweet is now deleted, in a subsequent reply, Rao posted: “Correction: Read “Wolf” for “Lion” in the above tweet.”
The post was severely condemned by Bandhua Mukti Morcha, the organisation of bonded labourers Agnivesh had founded, while BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao said that “Hindu tradition” means not discussing “negative things” immediately after death. Issues of legacy can be discussed later, he said.
Rao, a 1986-batch IPS officer who served in CBI until July 2019, before retiring as D-G, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, on July 31, had tweeted on Friday night: “GOOD RIDDANCE. You were an Anti-Hindu donning saffron clothes. You did enormous damage to Hinduism. I am ashamed that you were born as a Telugu Brahmin…Lion in sheep clothes. My grievance against Yamaraj is why did he wait this long!”
On July 25, six days before retiring, Rao had tweeted, “Story of Project Abrahamisation of Hindu Civilization: 1. Deny Hindus their knowledge; 2. Vilify Hinduism as collection of superstitions; 3. Abrahamise Education; 4. Abrahamise Media & Entertainment; 5. Shame Hindus about their identity; 6. Bereft of glue of Hinduism Hindu society dies [semi-colons put to split text].”
Responding to his tweet on Agnivesh, Indian Police Foundation, an independent think-tank on policing and law enforcement posted on Twitter: “Tweeting such hate messages…he has desecrated the police uniform and embarrassed the government. He demoralises the entire police force…especially young officers.”
While former Uttar Pradesh D-G and former BSF D-G Prakash Singh is chairman of IPF, N Ramachandran, former DGP of Assam and Meghalaya, is its president.
Senior BJP leader Muralidhar Rao said, “We should not speak about him at this point of time, when he has just passed away. His contribution, his merits and demerits…definitely we should discuss…. But for that there is no urgency…. When we are Hindus, we should follow Hindu tradition. Hindu tradition says that immediately (after death), we don’t discuss negative things about the person [immediately on his death]. We discuss afterward.”
Rao said: “Within Hindu tradition there is an Arya Samaj stream. He belongs to Arya Samaj – not accepting murti puja and all. He has been a swami-ji, I don’t think there is any dispute on that; definitely we had disagreements. (But) I would like to discuss (those) afterwards.”
Saji Narayanan, president of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to RSS, said, “Swami Agnivesh was not that way in the mainstream labour movement. Only on one occasion he telephoned me – about migrant workers. He mostly ran an NGO which did some work on labour. He was not part of any central trade union…. In trade union movement we do not bring in religious issues, caste issues…”
Bandhu Mukti Morcha’s general secretary Nirmal Gorana said, “The former CBI [interim] director’s hateful tweet against Swami Agnivesh-ji is highly condemnable. It is baseless political filth only to appease the Gods of bigotry which were always opposed by Swamiji. Such tweets, revealing the disease of sectarian fundamentalism, are against the teaching of Sanatan Hindu Dharma…”
Among others who condoled Agnish’s death, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu tweeted, “Saddened to learn about the demise of social activist & Arya Samaj leader, Swami Agnivesh. He worked relentlessly against bonded labor…”
Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri stated, “Deeply saddened to hear about the demise of social activist & champion of women’s rights Swami Agnivesh Ji. My condolences to his admirers & followers. RIP.”
Sonia Gandhi, as chairperson of Congress Parliamentary Party, released a condolence message for Agnivesh, stating that he “fought with great courage and conviction for the most marginalised sections of society, fearless in defending their rights and facing up to those who exploited and oppressed them and terrorised the poor, often at great personal risk.”
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