New Delhi, Jun 7: Two members of a fringe Hindutva outfit barged into the CPI(M) headquarters here on Wednesday and tried to "manhandle" party general secretary Sitaram Yechury. The Left party blamed the RSS for the incident.
The two men were subsequently put under arrest, the police said, adding that they were booked under sections 451 (house-trespass) and 504 (intentional insult) of the IPC. Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta said the two men, who entered the CPI(M) office posing as journalists, wanted to "express their anger" over the Left party's alleged criticism of the Army in an editorial in its mouthpiece, People's Democracy.
The CPI(M), however, has maintained that the editorial criticised Army chief Bipin Rawat for defending the recent act of an Army Major, who used a "human shield" against stone- pelters in Jammu and Kashmir, and not the armed forces. Reacting to today's incident, the Left party said it will not be cowed down by the "Sangh's goondagardi (hooliganism)" aimed at silencing its leaders and that it will win the "battle for the soul of India".
Top opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav and CPI national secretary D Raja, condemned the incident and expressed solidarity with Yechury, sources in the CPI(M) said.
The incident took place as Yechury was about to enter the Central Committee Hall on the first floor of AK Gopalan Bhavan, the CPI(M) headquarters, to address the media on the conclusion of the party's two-day politburo meeting here. The two men, Pawan Kumar Kaul (30) and Upender Kumar (24), shouting "CPI(M) murdabad (down with CPI-M)" and "Hindu Sena zindabad (long live Hindu Sena)" slogans, tried to get close to Yechury.
Kaul worked as the driver of a city-based lawyer, while Kumar was a cook at the canteen of a private hospital, the police said. "They tried to manhandle Comrade Yechury, but we came in their way and he was safe," a CPI(M) worker said. The two men were thrashed by the party workers before being handed over to the police.
Speaking to reporters, Yechury said the two men would have got "an adequate response" had they reached close enough to manhandle him. "Without violence, without terror, the RSS has never been able to spread its political influence. These tactics have been answered by the people of India in the past and we will give them an answer again," he said in a video message.
On Twitter, the Left leader wrote, "We will not be cowed down by any attempts of Sangh's goondagardi to silence us. This is a battle for the soul of India, which we will win (sic)." The police said they had received a complaint from the CPI(M) regarding the incident and the matter was being probed. Kaul and Kumar told the police that they were associated with the Hindu Sena.
Reacting to the incident, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said the opposition will not allow these "efforts to stifle" their voice. CPI's D Raja described the incident as an "attack by the right-wing forces on the country's Communist movement", which, he alleged, had become "aggressive" under the NDA regime.
"We urge the police to take appropriate measures to get to the root of the matter as there could be a sinister design behind the incident," he said. Delhi Police had deployed heavy security around AK Gopalan Bhavan in view of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's presence at the CPI(M) politburo meeting, anticipating protests by cow vigilante groups.
The two-day meeting had begun yesterday. Vijayan has been facing flak from right-wing outfits for his criticism of the Centre's recent notification banning the sale and purchase of cattle at the animal markets for the purpose of slaughter. Kerala has witnessed numerous incidents of political violence involving the workers of the CPI(M) and BJP-RSS in the recent past.