- Social activist assaulted, abused near BJP headquarters in Delhi
- Says had gone to pay respects to PM Vajpayee
- Had been attacked last month in Jharkhand allegedly by BJP youth workers
Swami Agnivesh was surrounded and 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 earlier beaten in Jharkhand by a mob that allegedly included BJP workers.
The attack just outside the office of India's ruling party, has been caught on camera. In the footage, the saffron-robed Swami Agnivesh is chased and pushed by a group that calls him "traitor" as he keeps walking, trying to get away. His turban is yanked by one man and a woman is seen holding her slipper, as if ready to strike at him.
The police took Swami Agnivesh to a van and moved him to safety but even as it was driving off, the mob tried to hit him.
"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, 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.
Mr Vajpayee, a three-time prime minister and the BJP's patriarch, died yesterday at 93. His body was kept in state at the BJP's new office on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Road for tributes ahead of his funeral.
No one has been arrested till now for the assault on Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand on July 17, which was also on camera. The activist was thrashed, punched and kicked by a mob allegedly of BJP workers in 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 said.
"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".