Ghaziabad, Jan 8: Dozens of Hindu activists attacked the AAP head office here Wednesday to protest controversial remarks on Kashmir by party leader Prashant Bhushan, vandalizing a part of the building.
Police arrested 13 members of Hindu Rakshak Dal, including its leader Bhupendra Tomar alias Pinky Chaudhary, for the attack even as a fuming AAP blamed the BJP and its allied groups.
The Bharatiya Janata Party denied any link and denounced the attack. But in the same breath, it said it also condemned Bhushan’s purported comments regarding army deployment in the Kashmir Valley.
The incident occurred around 11 a.m. when some 25 to 40 men waving flags and armed with sticks barged into the AAP office at Kaushambi, close to party leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s house.
In no time, the attackers began breaking flower pots and glass windows, brought down a wash basin, stoned the office heavily and loudly abused Aam Aadmi Party leaders including Bhushan and Kejriwal, witnesses said.
There were some 45 people, including 10 women, in the office when the attack took place. This included people who had come with representations for the Delhi government.
AAP member Suresh Chand told IANS that he was thrashed “by the goons” when he urged them to stop vandalizing the office.
“I would have sustained serious injuries if I had not been pulled inside the room by my colleagues.”
He said the miscreants tried to harm a woman party worker, Varsha.
Reacting quickly, AAP activist Poonam locked the office from the inside, preventing the attackers’ entry. But they caused widespread destruction to furniture and more outside.
“They broke the glass panes of the main entrance,” AAP office attendant Megha Saxena said.
“Some of them tried to scale the wall to reach the first floor but could not succeed,” Lokesh Dhaswan, another AAP member, told IANS.
AAP leader Dilip Pandey told IANS that the group raised slogans against Bhushan for his purported statement advocating a referendum on the army’s presence in Kashmir.
Before escaping in their cars after around 20 minutes, the attackers — in their 20s and 30s — threatened to further target AAP leaders.
Kejriwal said the intention was to kill his colleague Bhushan.
“Do they want to murder him (Bhushan)? Is this why they indulged in arson? Do they want to attack me and Bhushan? What do they want?” he asked.
The AAP said the Ghaziabad police reached the spot late but Delhi Police — Kaushambi is located close to the national capital — reacted faster.
Bhushan said: “The attack shows the tremendous frustration of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar over the rise of the AAP.”
Describing himself as a Hindu by religion, Kejriwal urged the attackers to follow the principles of Hindu god Rama. He said the AAP won’t hit back.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said the attack was a “clear signal that the Congress and the BJP are not happy with our success”.
Superintendent of Police Muniraj said 13 people were arrested for the attack. They were charged with rioting and sexual harassment. Muniraj told IANS that the AAP office would now get security.
AAP leaders handed over CCTV footage of the frenzy to police.
Mob leader Tomar told IANS later that his outfit was against Bhushan’s statement on Kashmir.