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Social activist Swami Agnivesh no more


Arya Samaj leader and social activist Swami Agnivesh passed away on Friday. Swami Agnivesh died due to multiple organ failure. Born on September 21, 1939, he would have turned 81-years-old this month.

The social activist was being treated at the New Delhi-based Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS) for liver cirrhosis. His condition was critical. In fact, Swami Agnivesh was on ventilator support since September 8.

ILBS issued a statement on the unfortunate death of the social activist. It said that the condition of Swami Agnivesh deteriorated on Friday and he suffered a cardiac arrest at around 6 pm. The hospital said it joins the entire country in mourning the death of the former Haryana MLA.

Swami Agnivsh had degrees in law and commerce

Swami Agnivesh was born as Vepa Shyam Rao on September 21, 1939, in a Brahmin Sanatani Hindu family at Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. He lost his father at the age of four. He was brought up by his maternal grandfather who was the Diwan of the princely state, Sakti, in present-day Chhattisgarh.

Agnivesh gained degrees in law and commerce, became a lecturer in management at the reputed St Xavier’s College in Kolkata. For a while, he practiced law as a junior to Sabyasachi Mukherji, who later went on to become the Chief Justice of India.

Former Arya Sabha in 1970

In 1970, Swami Agnivesh founded Arya Sabha, a political party based on Arya Samaj principles as he himself formulated in his 1974 book, Vaidik Samajvad.

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Served as Cabinet minister in Haryana

He became a member of the Legislative Assembly of Haryana in 1977, and served as a Cabinet minister for education in 1979. In 1981, while still a minister, he founded the Bonded Labour Liberation Front, which continues to raise issues surrounding bonded labour in India.

Thereafter, after leaving the ministry, he was arrested twice. He spent a total of 14 months in jail on charges of subversion and murder. Subsequently, he was acquitted of the charges.

Criticised by Hindu groups

In fact, Swami Agnivesh has been severely criticised by some Hindu groups for statements they view as anti-Hindu. In 2005, Agnivesh stated that the Puri Jagannath Temple should be opened to non-Hindus. As a result, the priests of the temple condemned his remarks as “purely anti-Hindu in nature” and burnt his effigy.

Similarly, on 17 July 2018, Agnivesh was attacked in Jharkhand. In fact, the attackers kept beating him even after he fell to the ground. His assailants accused him of being sympathetic to Christian missionaries and “against Hindus.”

Participated in Bigg Boss

Swami Agnivesh spent three days inside the Bigg Boss house as a house guest, from November 8-11, in 2011.


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