Social activist Swami Agnivesh was punched, kicked and verbally abused by a mob Tuesday outside a hotel in Jharkhand’s Pakur district. While Chief Minister Raghubar Das has ordered an inquiry, Agnivesh (79) said the mob included activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), which is affiliated to the BJP.
The police have registered an FIR against eight BJYM activists, including its district president, and a special investigation team was formed to probe the incident. Senior doctors in Pakur said that Agnivesh suffered minor injuries and that he was discharged soon after.
BJYM state chief Amit Singh claimed that while a protest was planned against Agnivesh, youth wing activists were not involved in the assault. The Jharkhand CM announced that the incident would be probed by the Santhal Pargana DIG and Divisional Commissioner.
DIG (Santhal Pargana) Akhilesh Kumar Jha said: “The identity of the people involved in the same is being ascertained. We have asked for a detailed report.”
According to the police, Swami Agnivesh had arrived in Pakur to attend a programme concerning the Paharia tribe at the Littipara stadium. Agnivesh was exiting a hotel when a group of protesters, said to be activists of the BJYM, the BJP’s youth wing, waiting outside began shouting slogans against him.
As the group got close to Agnivesh, some men assaulted him. Sources said Agnivesh fell to the ground, his clothes were torn and his turban was pulled off. Purported videos showed people beating him up as he lay down on the ground. The police reached the spot and dispersed the mob.
Videos also showed protesters asking Agnivesh to “go back” while calling him a “Pakistani agent”.
After the assault, Agnivesh said: “I was told that people from BJYM and ABVP (students’ wing of the RSS) were protesting outside the hotel against me. I told them that they could come and talk to me about their objections. But nobody came.”
According to him, he was attacked just after leaving the hotel. “I asked them with folded hands what the matter was, but they didn’t listen. They hurled abuses at me and beat me up. As I fell down, one of them had picked up a stone and my colleague protected me,” he said.
“I want that the guilty should be identified with the help of the CCTV cameras and the videos taken by mediapersons and booked.”
On the basis of a complaint lodged by Jai Malto, a resident of Littipara, the police have registered an FIR under various sections pertaining to rioting, causing injury and attempt to murder. Police have also invoked Section 3 (II) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Apart from 92 unnamed people, the eight persons named in the FIR are: Anand Tiwari, Pintu Mandal, Ashok Kumar (a ward Councillor), Prasanna Mishra (district BJYM Chief), Gopi Dubey, Balram Dubey, Shiv Kumar Saha and Badal Mandal.
BJYM state chief Amit Singh told The Indian Express: “It is true that BJYM had a programme for showing black flags to Agnivesh, as we are aware about his views and see him as supporters of Naxals. I have seen the videos; our people are only shouting slogans. They are not involved in the assault. The reason why our people have been named in the FIR is obvious.”