Jharkhand minister says Swami Agnivesh a ‘fraud’; social activist blames govt for attack
Social activist Swami Agnivesh on Wednesday dismissed a probe into an attack on him in Pakur as an eyewash and accused the BJP government in Jharkhand of sponsoring the assault even as the state’s urban development minister CP Singh said the former was a ‘fraud’ who orchestrated the attack on himself.
A day after he was thrashed allegedly by BJP youth wing workers, Agnivesh said he wanted to raise the issue with Jharkhand Governor Draupadi Murmu but could not meet her on Wednesday as his appointment of 11 am was cancelled.
But the Raj Bhawan denied that Agnivesh had a prior appointment with the governor.
“Since Governor had a scheduled engagement Agnivesh was informed meeting would not be possible today,” said a Raj Bhawan official.
Urban development minister denied the involvement of any Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers in the assault on Agnivesh.
“I know Agnivesh for last 40 years. He is an old fraud. He sponsored the attack on himself. No BJYM worker was involved in the assault,” Singh said.
Singh’s statement is contrary to the Pakur police’s press release on Tuesday, which categorically said ‘100 BJYM workers had thrashed him’. Pakur police have registered an FIR naming eight against eight people including BJYM Pakur president Prasanna Mishra. Ninety two others have been listed as unknown people in the FIR. A special investigation team (SIT) has also been set up to nab the accused.
Flanked by opposition leaders including former chief minister Babula Marandi and former union minister Subodh Kant Sahai, Agnivesh told reporters in Ranchi on Wednesday that the DIG (deputy inspector general) level investigation set up by the government was an eye wash.
“For impartial investigation, I had demanded judicial probe by any High Court judge or retired judge,” he said.
He alleged the government and local administration had prior information of his arrival in Jharkhand but they neither informed him about any threat nor arranged any security for him.
“I had informed the chief minister Raghubar Das on July 12 that I would be arriving in Jharkhand. I wanted to meet him on July 16 but he did not give me time,” he said. “The organizer of the tribal fest had provided my entire schedule to the local administration but not even a single security personnel was there when I was thrashed. This negligence shows that the attack on me was planned and government sponsored.”
The 78-year-old activist was in Pakur to address a tribal festival organised to commemorate the 195th foundation of Damin-i-Koh, part of land allocated to Santhals, at Littipara stadium, around 350 km northeast from state capital Ranchi.
Agnivesh said over one lakh tribal, mostly primitive tribe, had gathered at the venue and he was to address them about Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA.
“The Act came into existence in 1996 but the state assembly is yet to frame rules for it,” he said, adding, tribal rights and their lands are being taken away.
Opposition legislators raised the issue in assembly and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits.
Parliamentary affair minister Neelkanth Singh Munda informed the House that the government has taken the issue seriously. “The chief minister without making any delay ordered a probe. Santhal Paragana commissioner and deputy inspector general have been asked to investigate into the matter,” Munda said in the assembly.