'Truly secular despite his saffron dress': Activists, politicians condole death of Swami Agnivesh

'Despite his saffron dress, Swami Agnivesh was secular to the core. He was a champion of bonded laborers in the country,' said CPI leader D Raja, condoling the death of the Arya Samaj leader

FP Staff September 12, 2020 17:32:45 IST
'Truly secular despite his saffron dress': Activists, politicians condole death of Swami Agnivesh

File image of Swami Agnivesh. Facebook@swamiagnivesh

Several leaders, including vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu, as well as rights activists and the general public condoled the death of Swami Agnivesh, and remembered him as a "truly secular" person, who fought for bonded labourers and women rights.

A social and political activist Agnivesh, who was suffering from liver cirrhosis for a long time, died of multi-organ failure at a Delhi hospital on Friday. He was 80.

"I am saddened to hear of the demise of Swami Agnivesh ji, a famous social worker and leader of Arya Samaj. He waged a lifelong struggle against bonded labour. My humble tribute!" Vice-President M Venakiah Naidu tweeted on Friday.

"He was a great friend of the entire Left movement. He used to call me comrade and I also addressed him as comrade Swami. He never hesitated in identifying himself with progressive forces fighting for the poor," CPI leader D Raja said.

"Despite his saffron dress, he was secular to the core. He was a champion of bonded laborers in the country," he added.

Top leaders of the DMK and the PMK, MK Stalin and S Ramadoss, condoled the death of Agnivesh.

"Despite being attacked by communal forces many times, he remained steadfast on his policies," Stalin said in a statement.

PMK founder S Ramadoss mourned the death of his "friend", Swami Agnivesh and said he was supportive of the party's stand against alcohol and smoking.

Political activist Yogendra Yadav said Swami Agnivesh was a representative of the Hindu principle of tolerance and respect for every religion — sarva dharma sambhava.

"He respected every religion the way he venerated his own. He made us understand the real meaning of 'dharma' which is not being in a temple or an ashram, but being among the poor and serving them," he said.

Lawyer Mehmood Pracha said Swami Agnivesh fought for bonded labourers, women and child rights and the fight will continue even after his demise.

Recently, he was attacked on many occasions by people belonging to certain groups who were against his ideology, he said.

Agnivesh was allegedly attacked twice by BJP workers over his stance on various issues. On 17 July 2018, the activist was on his way to Litipara area in Pakur district of Jharkhand to participate in an event organised by the Pahariya tribal community when he was attacked allegedly by some BJP youth wing supporters.

A month later, he was heckled and assaulted near the BJP headquarters in Delhi allegedly by BJP workers, while he was on his way to pay homage to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Agnivesh had also supported the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and opposed the proposal to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), and taken part in several rallies across India.

He was among the 720 prominent citizens who had spoken against the amendments to the citizenship law in 2019 before it was passed in the Parliament, and the proposed NRC.

Those who came to pay last respects wore masks and followed COVID-19 protocols.

Agnivesh was critically ill and admitted to an ICU of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, and was on ventilatory support since Tuesday.

He was suffering from liver cirrhosis. He died due to multi-organ failure, doctors said.

With inputs from PTI

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