New Delhi : A man hurled black ink on Baba Ramdev here Saturday when the yoga guru refused claims that the 2008 Batla House gun battle here was a fake. Ramdev supporters immediately pounced on the man and thrashed him till he bled from the mouth.
The attack drew immediate condemnation from political parties, with the Congress demanding an investigation into the antecedents of the attacker, 39-year-old Kamran Siddiqui.
“What have I done to deserve this?” asked Ramdev later, wiping ink from his face. “I had asked for black money (stashed abroad) to be returned to the country and instead got black ink.”
Ramdev supporters caught hold of Siddiqui and beat him, hitting his head and face. As he bled, a lone uniformed policeman and a few others tried to drag him away from the mob.
Police later filed a case against Siddiqui.
A police officer said Ramdev was attacked when he insisted that there indeed was a shootout between police and suspected terrorists at the Batla House, leaving two militants and a police officer dead.
“When Baba said that Batla House encounter was not fake, Kamran threw ink on him,” said the officer. Siddqui, he said, lived in Okhla in south Delhi and runs a NGO, Real Cause.
On Wednesday, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh had claimed that no gun battle ever took place in Batla House. Home Minister P. Chidambaram and the Congress party refuted the claim.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Team Anna condemned the attack. The Congress saw a “conspiracy” to create communal tension ahead of state elections.
“This incident won’t affect me,” Ramdev added.
Anna Hazare said in his Ralegan Siddhi village in Maharashtra: “This is not an attempt to blacken Baba Ramdev’s face, but an attempt to taint the country’s democracy.”
BJP leader Sushma Swaraj called the attack “shocking” and said it “deserves outright condemnation”. Party colleague Arun Jaitley said “the attacker should be sent to jail”.
“We strongly condemn it. He (Ramdev) is a social and religious leader who has a good reputation and is spearheading his movement against corruption and black money,” Jaitley said.
RJD chief Lalu Prasad added: “Ramdev is a good person, he has done good work. I condemn it.”
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh commented: “Fanatic Hindus and fanatic Muslims … do such things.”
Siddiqui’s elder brother charged Ramdev’s followers with seriously injuring him.
“They broke my brother’s nose and teeth and have beaten him with hockey sticks… He is in hospital. If you are doing a press conference, then it is obvious someone will ask a question,” Yunus Siddiqui said.
The elder Siddiqui also alleged that Ramdev was fooling the people and that he himself had stashed away money abroad.
On Sep 19, 2008, two alleged Indian Mujahideen members and a police officer were killed at the Batla House. Some allege that the shootout was a stage-managed affair.