Agnivesh fails to meet Jhakhand Governor; assault finds echo in State Assembly

The incident of the social activist’s assault and his subsequent assertions against State government were not behind the cancellation of his appointment, say Raj Bhavan sources.

Social activist Swami Agnivesh, who was attacked on July 17 in Jharkhand’s Pakur town by a mob which, he said, belonged to BJP-affiliated youth groups, failed to get an audience with Governor Draupadi Murmu on July 18 and returned to Delhi.

The attack on the activist also found resonance in the State Assembly on Wednesday.

“My appointment with the Governor was cancelled without any reason,” he told reporters in Ranchi as he hinted that the Pakur episode might be the reason behind it.

Swami Agnivesh (79), known for his work against bonded labour, was slapped, kicked around and verbally abused as he came out after addressing a press conference, where he attacked the BJP government in the State for “displacing the tribals by acquiring their land and giving it to corporates”.

Raj Bhavan sources, however, said the Pakur incident and his subsequent assertions against the State government were not behind the cancellation of his appointment.

“An appointment with the Governor was sought yesterday afternoon over telephone which was accepted, but seeing pressing prior engagements of the Governor, it was cancelled last afternoon itself and conveyed to them,” the sources said on conditions of anonymity.

Swami Agnivesh said former Union Minister and Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha chief Babulal Marandi and Pakur MLA Alamgir Alam (Congress) met him in Ranchi and expressed shock over the incident.

Attack after event in Pakur

He was in Pakur, about 350 km from Ranchi, to attend an event of tribal body Akhil Bharatiya Adim Janjatiya Vikas Samiti. “As soon as I came out of the venue, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha [BJYM] and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad [ABVP] activists attacked me without any provocation. They alleged that I was speaking against Hindus,” he had said.

Police said an FIR was lodged in connection with the assault under various sections of the IPC, including 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapon), 149 (unlawful assembly) and 307 (attempt to murder), and the Schedule Caste/Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The FIR has been registered against 100 persons, out of which eight have been named, police said.

A special investigation team, headed by the Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Pakur, Ashok Kumar Singh, has been formed to investigate as well as conduct raids to apprehend the culprits.

Superintendent of Police, Shailendra Prasad Burnwal said some people were detained but they were released as their involvement in the incident was not established during interrogation.

‘Not happy with probe’

Swami Agnivesh, however, expressed reservations about the probe into the incident.

“The fact that some people were detained in connection with the incident and later released shows that it is nothing but a natak  [drama]… the attack on me was pre-planned,” he maintained.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the government instituting a probe by a DIG, and instead demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Jharkhand High Court into the incident.

Meanwhile, a video of the alleged attack on him is doing the rounds on social media and TV channels.

After beating up Swami Agnivesh, the attackers are seen saying, “If one wants to live in India, one has to chant Vande Mataram“.

Swami Agnivesh lamented that the mob attack happened despite the Supreme Court taking strong note of incidents of lynching, and asked Parliament to consider enacting law to sternly deal with mob lynching and cow vigilantism.

The doctor who attended to Swami Agnivesh in Sadar Hospital, Pakur, said the activist had no fracture, but complained of pain. He was given medicine.

Opposition protests in Assembly

In the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, the Opposition parties staged a noisy protest ahainst the assault on Swami Agnivesh, forcing an adjournment of the House till the lunch break. Leader of the Opposition Hemant Soren, Congress MLAs and other Opposition MLAs continued the protest.

Mr. Soren demanded ithe mmediate arrest of the culprits.

In view of the prevailing situation, Speaker Dinesh Oraon first adjourned the House till 12.45 p.m. and later suspended the proceedings till 2 p.m.

Urban Development Minister C.P. Singh, while talking to reporters outside the Assembly, branded the social activist a “fraud” and a “foreign agent”.

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