Social activist Swami Agnivesh died after a cardiac arrest Friday evening at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in Delhi. He was 80 years old. Admitted to the hospital on Tuesday, Swami Agnivesh was being treated for liver cirrhosis and had been on ventilator support following multi-organ failure.
According to a statement by the hospital, his condition began deteriorating this evening and he suffered a heart attack at 6 PM. Doctors tried to resuscitate him but failed, and he was declared dead at 6.30 PM.
A social activist and a religious leader who fought against bonded and child labour, for women's rights and for religious tolerance, news of Swami Agnivesh's death was greeted with shock and sorrow, with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi among those who tweeted.
"I am shocked and saddened by his passing. A man of vigour and conviction, he never looked, sounded or behaved his age! The country is diminished by his passing & I mourn with the millions whose rights he fought to uphold. Om Shanti," Mr Tharoor said.
I am shocked and saddened by his passing. A man of vigour and conviction, he never looked, sounded or behaved his age! The country is diminished by his passing & I mourn with the millions whose rights he fought to uphold. Om Shanti. https://t.co/Kzmwotn1Sb— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 11, 2020
"My deep condolences upon the passing away of veteran Arya Samaj leader, crusader against bonded labour and my old friend Swami Agniveshji. May the departed soul rest in peace," Mr Satyarthi, who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigns against child labour, said.
My deep condolences upon the passing away of veteran Arya Samaj leader, crusader against bonded labour and my old friend Swami Agnivesh ji. May the departed soul rest in peace. ओम् शान्ति, शान्ति, शान्ति:— Kailash Satyarthi (@k_satyarthi) September 11, 2020
"The demise of Swami Agnivesh is a huge tragedy. A true warrior for humanity & tolerance. Among the bravest that I knew... willing to take huge risks for public good. Was brutalised in Jharkhand by a BJP/RSS lynch mob 2 years ago. Liver got damaged," Mr Bhushan said.
In July 2018 Swami Agnivesh was brutally assaulted, allegedly by BJP Yuva Morcha workers chanting "Jai Sri Ram", in Jharkhand's Pakur, where he was supporting tribal communities' protest against land acquisition by the state.
The BJP, which was in power in Jharkhand at the time, condemned it and insisted the attackers weren't associated with the party, but added it was not a surprise given "Swami Agnivesh's 'track record'".
A month later he was attacked again, this time in Delhi while he was on his way to pay his last respects to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Swami Agnivesh, who also served as an MLA and cabinet minister (for education) in Haryana, was among 270 eminent personalities who wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking for an "independent investigation" into the violence that consumed parts of the national capital earlier this year.
Among the many awards he was conferred was the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel) in 2004.
With inputs from PTI