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Agnivesh Attack: Police Says No Arrests Yet; He Alleges Incident a Conspiracy of Jharkhand Govt

Agnivesh, who was attacked in Pakur town, 350 km from state capital Ranchi, on Tuesday by a mob, which, he alleged belonged to the BJP-affiliated youth groups, meanwhile, said he failed to get an audience with Governor Draupadi Murmu on Wednesday. He later returned to Delhi.

PTI

Updated:July 18, 2018, 11:16 PM IST
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Agnivesh Attack: Police Says No Arrests Yet; He Alleges Incident a Conspiracy of Jharkhand Govt
Social activist Swami Agnivesh after he was allegedly assaulted by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers, during his visit to Pakur on July 17. (PTI Photo)
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Ranchi/New Delhi: A day after the mob attack on Swami Agnivesh in Jharkhand, police on Wednesday night said no arrests have been made yet even as the social activist alleged the incident was a "pre-planned conspiracy" of the BJP government in the state.

The 79-year-old activist also demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Jharkhand High Court.

Agnivesh, who was attacked in Pakur town, 350 km from state capital Ranchi, on Tuesday by a mob, which, he alleged belonged to the BJP-affiliated youth groups, meanwhile, said he failed to get an audience with Governor Draupadi Murmu on Wednesday. He later returned to Delhi.

The attack, caught on camera, also echoed in the state Assembly.

The Opposition parties staged a noisy protest, forcing adjournment of the House twice. Leader of the Opposition Hemant Soren demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.

The state Urban Development Minister C P Singh alleged that the social activist was a "fraud" and a "foreign agent".

Talking to reporters in Ranchi, Singh alleged that Agnivesh wore saffron robes to deceive people and that he had conspired to get himself attacked to gain popularity.

Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Jharkhand president Amit Kumar alleged that Agnivesh was "encouraging separatism and giving protection to naxalites".

"His speeches on the culture of India and Hindus clearly shows that Agnivesh is trying to divide the tribal society," he said in a press release.

Agnivesh, who is known for his work against bonded labour, was slapped, kicked around and verbally abused by the mob. He alleged that the BJP-affiliated youth groups had accused him of speaking against Hindus.

Superintendent of Police Shailendra Prasad Burnwal said no arrests have been made in the case yet.

Some people were detained in this regard but were released later as their involvement in the incident was not established during interrogation, he added.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi took a jibe at the BJP over the attack and posted a "pop quiz" on Twitter, asking, "I use hatred and fear to maintain the hierarchy of power, who am I".

Gandhi posted the 'pop quiz' on Twitter and tagged a video of the assault shown by a news channel.

The attack also figured in Parliament.

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said in the Lok Sabha that the incident showed there was no place for dissent.

"We cannot and should not stand by hooliganism... the rule of law should prevail," he said.

"I urge the Prime Minister to break his silence and seek action against anti-national elements."

Police said an FIR was lodged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code(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 was registered against 100 persons, out of whom eight are named, police said.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Pakur, Ashok Kumar Singh was formed to investigate as well as conduct raids to apprehend the culprits, police said.

"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," Agnivesh maintained.

"It was a pre-planned conspiracy of the State government," he alleged while talking to reporters in Ranchi.

The Arya Samaj scholar expressed reservations over the state government instituting a probe by DIG, and instead demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Jharkhand High Court.

On his plan to meet the Governor, Agnivesh claimed his appointment was cancelled without any reason.

Raj Bhawan sources, however, said the Pakur incident and the subsequent assertions by the activist against the state government were not behind the cancellation of Agnivesh's 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," sources in the Raj Bhawan said on the condition of anonymity.

Agnivesh was assaulted 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 corporate".

He was in Pakur to attend an event of tribal body Akhil Bharatiya Adim Janjatiya Vikas Samiti.

Condemning the attack, the CPI-M expressed its apprehensions that though the guilty had been "identified" as BJP Yuva Morcha supporters, as per norms, the BJP state government was expected to treat them with great leniency.

In a statement, it alleged that the very fact that the culprits, even when identified, go unpunished, spoke volumes of the "patronisation provided by the RSS/BJP".
| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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