New Delhi: In yet another instance of breach of security of VVIPs, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday was slapped by a youth.
The man, indentified as Harvinder Singh, attacked the Nationalist Congress Party chief when he was speaking to reporters after a function at the NDMC Centre in the heart of the capital.
Harvinder Singh, who is from Rohini, was present in the audience during the function organised by PSU company IFFCO, slapped Pawar on his face and tried to punch him.
Pawar composed himself and walked out with his posse of security.
Harvinder Singh is a serial offender. He had just few days back attacked former telecom minister Sukhram who was sentenced to prison in a corruption case. He was let off then as he is believed to be mentally deranged.
Immediately after he slapped Pawar, he was cornered by security persons and others present there but he took out a small knife from his pocket and started screaming, "I will kill, everybody is a thief.”
Singh is believed to be angry with the minister’s inability to tame rising inflation and check the spiralling prices of essential commodities.
He said that he is a supporter of Anna Hazare’s movement but he doesn’t believe in the Gandhian ways of the Lokpal crusader.
However, the episode had raised serious questions about the security cover provided to cabinet minister.
Harvinder was taken away by the police to Barakhamba Road police station for interrogation. Delhi police booked him under Section 323 (Causing hurt), 353 (Attack on public servant) and 506 (Criminal intimidation).
Later speaking to a new channel, Pawar played down the episode. He said that he had thought that he was pushed by someone amid the jostle by reporters and dismissed it.
NCP spokesperson DP Tripathi while condemning the incident said that the media should exercise restraint while covering such incidents.
Leaders from across the political spectrum have condemned the incident.
Congress, in the meanwhile, said the issue must be probed. Reacting to the incident, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that incidents like this should not be given too much importance.
The BJP also condemned the incident, however, party leader SS Alhulwalia said in the Rajy Sabha, “The issue of price rise has become so grave today that now a youth has slapped the agriculture minister of the country!”
Congress leader Rashid Alvi slammed Alhuwalia’s statement and criticised him for trying to term an act of violence as people’s anger.