Former Haryana MLA and Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh, passed away at a New Delhi Hospital on Friday, 11 September at the age of 80.
He was hospitalised at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in New Delhi due to liver cirrhosis and was in a critical condition.
He was on ventilation since Tuesday due to multiple organ failure.
Agnivesh was born as Vepa Shyam Rao in Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam in 1939. He studied law and commerce and taught at St Xavier’s College Kolkata.
Based on the principles of the Arya Samaj, Agnivesh founded a political party called Arya Sabha in 1970 and became a member of the Haryana legislative assembly in 1977. He was a strong proponent of religious harmony and encouraged dialogue between religions.
He was also involved in various forms of social activism, leading campaigns against female foeticide and the emancipation of women.
He often faced hostility from right-wing Hindutva groups. For instance, In 2018, he was attacked by alleged members of the BJP’s Youth Wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in Jharkhand. The attackers kept beating him even after he collapsed on the ground.
Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan hailed him for standing for tolerance even in the face of such attacks.
"The demise of Swami Agnivesh is a huge tragedy. A true warrior for humanity and tolerance. Among the bravest that I knew, willing to take huge risks for public good.Was brutalised in Jharkhand by a BJP/RSS lynch mob 2 yrs ago. Liver got damaged. RIP Agnivesh ji", tweeted activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
Activist John Dayal, who worked closely with Swami Agnivesh wrote on his Facebook wall, “Who else, clad in the dress once worn by Swami Vivekananda, could argue and answer back everyone from a Shankaracharya down to the knife bearing thug who said he was protecting India?”.
Others echoed his sentiments.
Swami Agnivesh ji is no more. A brave human right defender. A true representative of saffron values. My salute and condolences. https://t.co/IKFzYRX9WW— nikhil wagle (@waglenikhil) September 11, 2020
Very sorry to hear of the passing of Swami Agnivesh. He was an incredibly courageous human being, a heroic (and always non-violent) fighter for the underprivileged. And he had a wonderful sense of fun. Every meeting with him was both educative and joyous. https://t.co/WDMkhQvOgE— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) September 11, 2020
Pained to hear of the demise of Swami Agnivesh ji. He was a kind and affectionate human being who worked hard for the betterment of our society. He will always be remembered for his crusade against bonded labour. Prayers for the departed soul. Om Shanti pic.twitter.com/OH6MWCzZua— Naveen Jindal (@MPNaveenJindal) September 11, 2020
Rest in Peace Swami Agnivesh. A true Swami who held the flag of humanity fly high always. You will be missed. https://t.co/T9hfqliEvS— Sayema (@_sayema) September 11, 2020
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