On Friday, Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh passed away after having been hospitalised due to liver cirrhosis at the Institute of Liver and Billary Sciences in New Delhi on Tuesday.
News agency IANS had reported on Thursday that he was in a critical condition after suffering multi-organ failure during the treatment. Now, on Friday evening, news of his death came in on Twitter. He was 80.
A former MLA from Haryana, Swami Agnivesh had led an eventful life. Born in a Brahmin family, he had renounced his religion, caste and possessions at an early age to lead the life of an ascetic. He founded the political party, Arya Sabha, that was based on the principles of the Arya Samaj in 1970, and was involved in various social campaigns. He had campaigned against female foeticide and the emancipation of women, and had also been a prominent associate of Anna Hazare during the India Against Corruption's campaign in 2011 to implement the Jan Lokpal Bill.
Aside from his political and social endeavours, he had been a teacher and a lawyer. He founded the Bonded Labour Liberation Front in 1981 and was a prominent advocate for 'inter-faith' dialogue. In 2008, he was expelled from the Arya Samaj. Over the years, many had alleged that he was "anti-Hindu" and in 2018, Swami Agnivesh was beaten brutally by an angry mob in Jharkhand. None of this however could deter the man who had in 2011 successfully negotiated with Maoists for the release of five police officials.
Following the news, many have taken to social media to express their sadness.
"The demise of Swami Agnivesh is a huge tragedy. A true warrior for humanity&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," wrote lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
"My deep condolences upon the passing away of veteran Arya Samaj leader, crusader against bonded labour and my old friend Swami Agnivesh ji. May the departed soul rest in peace," wrote Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.