Ranchi, July 17 (IANS) Social activist Swami Agnivesh was taken to hospital with injuries on Tuesday after suspected Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists thrashed him at Pakur in Jharkhand while shouting "Jai Shri Ram" slogans.
Police said the 78-year-old saffron robed activist was pounced upon as he stepped out of his hotel to get into a car to take part in the 195th Damin Mahotsav at Littpara. Pakur is located around 360 km from Ranchi.
"Go back Agnivesh, go back Agnivesh! You have to recite Vande Matram if you have to stay in India," were the other slogans shouted by the the BJYM workers.
The BJYM workers alleged that Agnivesh had come to instigate the tribal people at the behest of Christian missionaries.
"I am against any sort of violence. I am known as a peace-loving person. I don't know why I was attacked," a visibly shaken Agnivesh told NDTV.
Agnivesh was flanked by tribals who were holding bows and arrows when the mob attacked him.
Even as he kept asking what they wanted, the attackers thrashed him. Agnivesh fell on the ground but the beating continued. His aides did their best to save him.
"They punched, kicked and dragged me on the ground. They also used cuss words," he said later. "They abused my mother, my sister."
Jharkhand Police spokesman R.K. Malik said an FIR had been lodged and raids were being conducted to nab the attackers.
Police earlier detained 20 people but no was arrested.
The Congress and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) condemned the attack.
"This is most unfortunate. We demand the immediate arrest of the culprits," Congress spokesperson Alok Dubey told IANS.
Agnivesh said there were no policemen around. Local reporters had told him that the BJP youth wing's workers were outside his hotel to protest against his visit but he was completely taken aback by the violence, he said.
"I offered to hold a dialogue with them. But nobody came to speak to me. I was going to a sammelan (seminar) with my tribal friends when they launched an attack... Without any warning, they pounced on me," Agnivesh said.
The activist likened the attack to mob lynchings that have been reported in several states in the past one year.
An injured Agnivesh, who was in pain, was later taken to a hospital.