NEW DELHI: After the backwaters of Jharkhand, Swami Agnivesh was surrounded and attacked near the BJP office in Delhi where he had gone to pay his last respects to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was chased and attacked by a group of reportedly BJP workers, who called him a ‘traitor’, yanked off his turban, with a woman taking off her slippers to hit him.

The police finally led him to safety although the mob kept trying to beat him.

In Jharkhand Agnivesh was badly beaten just recently after he had addressed the media at Pakur, and was leaving for a public rally of Adivasis protesting against land acquisition. Here in Delhi he was walking to pay his last respects to Vajpayee whose body was placed at the BJP’s new office at Deen Dayal Upadhaya Road.

Agnivesh said that he gone to pay his respects to Vajpayee, and was walking the last stretch when a group came and attacked him, and the 3 or 4 persons with him. Even as the police took him into a van, the mob continued to try and hit him.

“He is a traitor, he is a traitor, beat him,” the mob shouted according to Agnivesh.

Agnivesh, a saffron clad Swami from Arya Samaj, said that this violence was new. And had never been directed against the Arya Samajis in the country. He said differences had always been there, but these were part of the spirt of tolerance that defined India. In Pakur, he said, the mob of 150 persons had assaulted him, beat him, and accused him of supporting gau mass (beef). His clothes were torn and being a cardiac patient was taken to Ranchi and then Delhi for medical treatment.

The BJP had distanced itself from the assault in Jharkhand. But now the Delhi attack seems to have confirmed Agnivesh’s claim that he was hit by BJP workers in Pukur. Agnivesh has been critical of the current government, although he enjoyed good relations with the late PM Vajpayee. He has spoken out against communal violence and lynchings, insisting that this was not the way of Hinduism.

The Delhi attack at the BJP office, amidst full security for those paying their last tributes to the late PM, makes it clear that Agnivesh is on some kind of an undeclared hit list. He had spoken to BJP leader Harsh Vardhan just before making his way to the office inside. The attack was sudden and unexpected, and caught all by surprise. Of course as can be seen in the video grab with this story, the violence was being captured on somebody's mobile phone.