The social activist who had always been eager to jump into any anti-Hindu platform, Swami Agnivesh died after a cardiac arrest this evening at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, Delhi. He was 80-years old. Admitted to the hospital on 8 September, Swami Agnivesh was being treated for liver cirrhosis and had been on ventilator support following multi-organ failure.
According to a statement by the hospital, his condition began deteriorating this evening and he suffered a heart attack at 6 PM. Doctors tried to resuscitate him but failed, and he was declared dead at 6:30 PM.
A social activist and anti-idolatry Arya Samaj leader who fought against bonded labour, Swami Agnivesh was mourned by the usual suspects. INC MP Shashi Tharoor, lawyer-rabble rouser Prashant Bhushan and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi among those who tweeted.
“I am shocked and saddened by his passing. A man of vigour and conviction, he never looked, sounded or behaved his age! The country is diminished by his passing & I mourn with the millions whose rights he fought to uphold. Om Shanti,” Tharoor said.
“My deep condolences upon the passing away of veteran Arya Samaj leader, crusader against bonded labour and my old friend Swami Agniveshji. May the departed soul rest in peace,” Satyarthi, who won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for his campaigns against child labour, said.
“The demise of Swami Agnivesh is a huge tragedy. A true warrior for humanity & tolerance. Among the bravest that I knew… willing to take huge risks for (the) public good. Was brutalised in Jharkhand by a BJP/RSS lynch mob 2 years ago. Liver got damaged,” Bhushan said.
The most ignominious moment in the life and political career of Swami Agnivesh was the occasion when he was caught red-handed recording an internal meeting of India against Corruption and seen on camera passing on the information to Kapil Sibal, then a minister in the UPA government and interlocutor calling for a truce with the Anna Hazare-led activist group.
Following the reduction of the IaC to irrelevance about a year later when the Aam Aadmi Party was formed, Swami Agnivesh tried to penetrate a whole lot of activist groups that revelled in disruptive activities, said a former colleague of his.
The source said journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik used to try and push the Arya Samaji swami into different groups until the scribe himself faced hostilities in the country for visiting Pakistan and speaking against India on the soil of the hostile neighbour.
Swami Agnivesh has been attacked physically time and again for ridiculing Hindu beliefs, a mark of most Arya Samaj preachers. He used to put up in a room at the rear end of the practically unused Janata Dal (United) office near Jantar Mantar of Delhi.
The source said that in the circle of activists, the integrity of Swami Agnivesh was always doubted. Many even speculated he spied for the powers that be in the UPA era, the source said, adding that the allegations included that of amassing wealth in return of vital information he would pass on to the government of that era.
Troubled by a bevvy of allegations against the saffron-robed communist, the Arya Samaj expelled him from the community. The Arya Samaj of Haryana to which Swami Agnivesh was associated, excommunicated him for propagating Christianity and his alleged involvement in money laundering.
The shady swami was infamous for his support to Maoists in Sukma. He had reduced himself to an object of ridicule by participating in the voyeuristic television reality show Bigg Boss.
Swami Agnivesh, who also served as an MLA and cabinet minister (for education) in Haryana, was among 270 eminent personalities who wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, asking for an “independent investigation” into the violence that consumed parts of the national capital earlier this year.