AKASH VIJAYVARGIYA, a first-time BJP MLA from Indore and son of the party’s high-profile national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, was arrested and sent to judicial custody Wednesday for beating a municipal corporation official with a cricket bat while opposing a demolition drive in the city.
Video footage showed the 34-year-old Akash chasing and beating house inspector Dharmendra Bais, who was also assaulted by BJP workers accompanying the MLA and local residents. Another corporation official also suffered injuries in the attack.
Based on a complaint from Bais, officers at M G Road Police Station booked Akash and 10 others under various IPC sections, including for assaulting a public servant, criminal intimidation and unlawful assembly. The MLA was later produced before a local court, which denied bail and sent him to judicial custody.
Officials said the incident at Ganji Compound forced them to abandon the demolition of a building in the locality that had been declared unsafe for occupation.
Speaking to reporters later, the MLA claimed that he had retaliated after the corporation staff behaved indecently with women. “The demolition squad did not have a single woman staffer, and there were no female police constables. Male officials dragged women by their feet,” he claimed.
“In the BJP, we have been taught, pehle aavedan, phir nivedan aur phir danadan (first a plea, then request, and then attack),” PTI quoted Akash as saying.
Akash’s father, Kailash Vijayvargiya, is the BJP’s general secretary in charge of West Bengal, where the party emerged as the main challenger to the Trinamool Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, winning 18 of the state’s 42 seats. He was also in charge of the Haryana polls, and had served as a minister earlier in the Madhya Pradesh government.
The Vijayvargiyas wield immense clout in Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh where a Congress government came to power last year after 15 years of BJP rule.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Bais denied Akash’s allegations. “He (Akash) told us to leave within 10 minutes or face the consequences. He abused and threatened to kill me. I suffered injuries but they are not serious. He warned that he will beat me in the future, too. But I will fight. I am not scared because I did not do anything wrong,’’ the 46-year-old said.
According to Bais, all occupants of the building marked for demolition had vacated it except one tenant, whom he described as a “BJP supporter”. Witnesses claimed that Akash also removed the key from the earth mover that was to be used for the demolition.
Claiming that the incident was the result of a turf war between Kailash Vijayvargiya and Indore Mayor Malini Gaud, Congress media coordinator Shobha Oza said: “During the BJP rule of 15 years, it was common for their workers to beat up officials, blacken their faces or slap them. But now, they should not forget that there is a Congress government in the state, which will not tolerate it.’’
BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal alleged that corporation employees were “harassing common people” and that “the incident was a manifestation of that anger”. “It is not proper to judge the young MLA on the basis of just one video,” Agrawal said. Akash’s lawyer said he would appeal the lower court’s order in the district court.