Prashant Bhushan assaulted over J&K remarks

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 23:31

New Delhi: Lawyer-activist and prominent
Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan was on Wednesday assaulted by three
youths belonging to a right-wing group in his Supreme Court
chamber for his advocacy of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.

The attack on Bhushan came live on the TV screens when
Inder Verma (24) and two others barged into into Chamber No
301 of New Lawyers Chamber opposite Supreme Court and attacked
him mentioning "Kashmir, Kashmir".

As he was preparing to give an interview to a TV channel,
the lawyer was first slapped as his spectacles flew, beaten,
kicked and pinned to the ground after being pushed out of the
chair.

Bhushan`s assistants and clerks, who came to his help was
also roughed up by the attackers before Verma was caught and
beaten up by some people said to be lawyers and others, while
the other two escaped.

The attack was condemned from all quarters, including
Home Minister P Chidambaram who said one person (Verma) has
been arrested. He has asked Delhi Police to arrest the other
two attackers as soon as possible.
55-year-old Bhushan was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia
Hospital and later discharged after check up.

After reaching his home in neighbouring Noida, he
narrated the incident and sought a ban on organisations like
Sri Ram Sene which practices "goondaism" of this type in
various cities across the country on whatever issues it likes.

He expressed hope that legal proceedings would be
initiated against the attackers and appealed to his supporters
not to indulge in retribution.

However, Bhushan refused to take questions on his views
on Kashmir that provoked the attack.

Earlier immediately after the attack, Bhushan said in his
chamber that the youths targeted him for his stand on Jammu
and Kashmir.

"They were saying that I have made some comments on
Kashmir to which they were taking objection. I have said that
a plebiscite should be held in Kashmir," Bhushan said.

He had in Varanasi last week said that there could be a
plebiscite in Kashmir. Bhushan claimed this comment angered
the group which was behind the attack.

In social networking site `Facebook`, the account holder
in the name of `Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena` claimed they "hit
Prashant Bhushan hard in his chamber in Supreme Court. If you
will try to break my nation, I will break your head."

The attack triggered sharp reactions from Home Minister P
Chidambaram, Anna Hazare and his team, Congress, BJP and
CPI(M) who strongly condemned the incident.

Verma (24), a resident of Karai Village in Nangloi,
was arrested for the attack while a hunt is on to nab the
other two. Verma claimed to police that he was the president
of Sri Ram Sene`s Delhi unit.
He claimed he was beaten up by people inside the chambers
and alleged that they would not have come to blows if the
other side would not have resorted to it.

"We would not have come to blows if they hadn`t. We had
only come to seek answers from them...we opposed it. We were
three people. The issue was Kashmir. His views are an insult
to our martyrs. It will not be tolerated," he said.

A case of voluntarily causing hurt, criminal trespass and
criminal conspiracy was registered against Verma and two
others.

In Ralegan Siddhi, Hazare strongly condemned the attack,
saying nobody has the right to take law on their hands. Asked
to comment on Bhushan`s stand on Kashmir, which allegedly
angered the youths, Hazare refused to comment.

On whether security should be provided to his team
members, he said "I feel security should be given."

Chidambaram directed Delhi Police Commissioner B K Gupta
to take appropriate action against the assailants. "Nobody
has the right to take law in their hands and I have asked the
Delhi Police to take appropriate action against the people
involved in the attack," he said.

Congress termed the attack as "barbaric" and demanded
strict action against the attackers. "No words are
strong enough to condemn the barbaric attack," said party
spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, himself a senior lawyer.

"The issue needed to be dealt with strictly so as to
avoid recurrence of any such incident in future. No right-
thinking people will support such kind of action," he said.

BJP too came out against the assault. "BJP condemns any
kind of violence against anybody. But the Congress dirty
tricks department is capable of doing anything. Only a
thorough inquiry will reveal the truth behind the incident,"
party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said the attack
was "reprehensible" and should be condemned in strong words.
"Those who conducted this attack cannot by these means
suppress the right of anybody to express their opinion," Karat
said.

Activist Kiran Bedi said it was absolutely shocking and
shameful. "I am very distressed. But you got evidence, I think
these people will be in jail for a long time now.

"It shows the amount of intolerance level we have
reached. I don`t know what they are up for, but they don`t
know they are beating up such a good man who continues to work
for the community day in and day out," Bedi said.

Condemning the attack, activists and intellectuals like
Aruna Roy, Kuldip Nayyar and Medha Patkar said it only shows
the "growing intolerance and contempt for any differing
opinion" in a democratic country.

"Violence is not the way to express one`s point of view
in democracy...It is extremely condemnable that a group using
the name of Bhagat Singh and in the name of patriotism resorts
to such action. We condemn such a heinous attack," they said
in a statement.

Condemning the attack, Former Prime Minister H D Deve
Gowda said he was "extremely shocked" to learn about the
attack on the legal luminary and eminent civil society
activist.

"The attack on Bhushan, who has sacrificed immensely for
the cause of the society and the nation, is an act of
cowardice, which all right thinking people should condemn in
the strongest possible terms," he said in a statement.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 16:37

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