News Desk, Beyondheadlines
New Delhi: In an untoward incident, human rights activist Swami Agnivesh, who was accompanying the anti-corruption bill crusader Anna Hazare to a visit to Gujarat on Thursday, was slapped by a Mahant.
The incident took place before the start of a public meeting to be addressed by Hazare. While meeting people, Swami Agnivesh tried to greet Mahant Nityanand Das, the chief of a temple near Nadiad, while the latter slapped him. Placing a cotton-thread garland round the Swami’s neck, Nityanand pulled his turban and slapped him. In the process, Agnivesh lost his spectacles.
Nityanand, who was arrested by the police, told journalists before leaving the venue that his anger against Swami Agnivesh was for his comments about the holy Amarnath shrine of Lord Shiva.
Swami Agnivesh, on the sidelines of a recent peace conference in Srinagar, had allegedly commented that the ice lingam of Amarnath was “artificially made,” and that the annual “Amarnath yatra” was a “religious deception.”
Nityanand had earlier announced a “reward” of Rs 51,000 for anyone who would dare to hurl a shoe at Swami Agnivesh in public. He said he had nothing against Hazare and totally supported his crusade against corruption, “but I cannot take the Swami’s comments against a holy shrine of the Hindus.”
While being taken away, the mahant of Shree Kadi temple in Mahutaj district, Kheda justified his action, “Fight whatever you want to against corruption, but how dare you speak about Baba Amarnath.”
Nityanand said that he supported Anna’s fight against corruption. “I have nothing against Anna. But, why did the Swami speak bad of Baba Amarnath. Why are the sanyasis silent?”
He explained, “When he (Swami Agnivesh) was in Kashmir, having biryani with Gilani, he said, Baba Amarnath yatra is a fraud among Hindu community. The faith of 5 crore Hindus has been crushed. There are many such Swami Agniveshs and we shall beat them all up.”
The mahant even said that “I would have killed him if I could lay my hands on him. Whoever speaks bad of Baba Amarnath will be treated the same way.” Soon after he was detained by the Karanj police, Agnivesh took the microphone and publicly announced that his attacker should be allowed to go and no action taken against him.
Human right activists strongly condemned the incident. “We condemn the attack on Swami Agnivesh.” Said Father Cedric Prakash, a human right activist and convener of Prashant, a voluntary organisation.
Also read: Activists Condemn Attack on Swami Agnivesh