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PUCL Strongly Condemns the Ghastly Attack on Swami Agnivesh

Ravi Kiran Jain, President

N.D. Pancholi, Vice President

Dr. V. Suresh, General Secretary,

PUCL National

The ugly, planned attack on Swami Agnivesh in Pukar, Jharkhand on Tuesday, the 17th July 2018 by members of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) and affiliates of BJP, shows the extent of depravity to which the right wing goons can fall in pursuance of their hatred against those who are engaged in building and promoting secular and democratic values in the country.

Swami Agnivesh has been involved in espousing the cause of dalits, minorities and other deprived sections of society –especially the children for more than 50 years. The laudable work done by theBandhua Mukti Morcha which he founded in the 1970's by which thousands and thousands of enslaved labourers were freed from the shackles of bondage, is his memorable contribution to the promotion of the human rights movement in the country. The judgment of the Supreme Court in this connection in 1980, popularly known as 'Bandhua Mukti Morcha' case is a landmark decision which also helped in promoting the growth of the concept of Public Interest Litigation in the initial periods.

He has been deeply involved in the campaign for eradicating the evil practice of liquor consumption in the country. He has led large number of campaigns for opposing nuclear power projects. He deep and intense commitment to secular and democratic values and his relentlessly fight against communal propaganda, hate campaigns and majoritarian violence is well known across the country. A powerful and eloquent speaker, Swami Agnivesh is invited by movements, campaigns and groups across India to share his views, experiences and insights with people so as to strengthen the secular and democratic movements in India.

The right wing, Hindutva organizations have, from time to time, been openly issuing statements and threats against him. The `All India Hindu Mahasabha' on 24th May 2011, at Lucknow, declared an award of Rs.10 lakhs to the Hindu (person) who would behead Swami Agnivesh. The Haryana unit of Hindu Mahasabha, on 24th April, 2015, declared at Jind, an additional award of Rs.5 lakhs for the same. Despite such obviously illegal and provocative statements, no effective action has been taken against such elements by the respective governments. The right wing forces have been carrying out a false and vicious propaganda to discredit him and his activities. Swami Agnivesh has been exposing the false 'Babas', 'Sadhus' and 'maulvis' who have been duping thousands of innocent citizens in the name of religion. He has continuously and vehemently opposed the concept of 'Hindu Rashtra' and effectively demolishes the 'Hindutva' propaganda in his speeches as well as in debates on various TV channels. No wonder that right wing forces have been looking for every opportunity to attack him.

It is shocking that in spite of the advance information given to the Jharkhand state police about the meeting in which Swamiji was going to participate in Pukar on 17th July, there was no police team present in the hotel where Swamiji was staying to ensure his protection and personal safety. It was public knowledge that the BJYM and BJP affiliated groups had openly threatened physical attack on Swamiji. Yet no preventive action was taken by the Jharkhand police to stop the mob from assaulting and injuring Swami Agnivesh.

Most ironically, the mob was allowed to attack Swamiji at a time when the Supreme Court was pronouncing its judgment, asking state governments to ensure proper measures for checking and controlling the unruly mobs who have cropped up everywhere and are always ready to attack and lynch anyone who they see as opposing their communal propaganda of hate, intolerance and violence. The trend for the last four to five years show that, instead of controlling the mob mentality, the governments seem to have been encouraging the same to which Swami Agnivesh became the latest victim.

Swami Agnivesh has been an important member of Peoples Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) from its very inception and has played very important part in promoting its activities relating to protection and promotion of human rights in the country. Swamiji, was also part of a team of human rights activists who walked deep into the forests in Chhattisgarh to help release a number of subordinate level policemen who had been kidnapped by the Maoists.

PUCL strongly condemns the cowardly attack on Swami Agnivesh at Pakur, Jharkhand, by members of the Bhartiya Yuva Morcha and other right wing goons and urge the State government of Jharkhand to immediately arrest and prosecute the culprits who participated in the ghastly attack. PUCL also appeals to the citizens to unite and actively oppose the dangerous trend of this kind of mob mentality being encouraged by the regressive forces in the country.

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