New Delhi: Lawyer-activist and prominent Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan was on Wednesday day assaulted by three youths belonging to a right-wing group in his Supreme Court chamber for his advocacy of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. (Agencies)
The attack on Bhushan came live on the TV screens when Inder Verma (24) and two others barged 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 otherside 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.
Mirwaiz condemns attack
Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq termed as "intolerable" the attack on senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan and said it was unfortunate that nothing was done to prevent it.
"This is a sad and unfortunate incident that a respected Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan was attacked in his chamber," Mirwaiz said in Srinagar on Wednesday.
The separatist leader said the attack on Bhushan for speaking in favour of Kashmir was "height of intolerance".
"These attacks are condemnable and we strongly condemn this attack. What is more unfortunate is that government has done nothing to prevent such attacks," he said.
New Delhi: Lawyer-activist and prominent Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan was on Wednesday day assaulted by three youths belonging to a right-wing group in his Supreme Court chamber for his advocacy of plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir.