"You were an anti-Hindu donning saffron clothes. You did enormous damage to Hinduism," Rao had tweeted about Agnivesh.

A collage of Nageswara Rao and Swami Agnivesh
news Controversy Sunday, September 13, 2020 - 08:39

A tweet by M Nageswara Rao, the former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), was pulled down by Twitter on Saturday, after he called the death of popular Arya Samaj leader Swami Agnivesh 'good riddance'. "You were an anti-Hindu donning saffron clothes. You did enormous damage to Hinduism. I am ashamed that you were born as a Telugu Brahmin," Rao tweeted. Labelling Agnivesh as a "lion in sheep clothes," Rao added, "My grievance against Yamaraj (the god of death) is why did he wait this long!"

Swami Agnivesh had been admitted to Delhi's Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences on Tuesday. He was critically ill and suffered from liver cirrhosis and was on ventilator support since Tuesday owing to multi-organ failure. His condition deteriorated on Friday and he suffered a cardiac arrest at 6 pm.

Rao, a 1986-batch Telugu-native officer, was removed from his posting with the CBI last year and spent a brief tenure as General (DG) Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guard, before he stepped down and retired in July this year.

Many on social media had condemned his comments. Taking to Twitter, the Indian Police Foundation, a think tank working on police reform, said, "Tweeting such hate messages by a retired officer posing as an IPS officer - he has desecrated the police uniform which he wore and embarrassed the government. He demoralises the entire police force in the country, especially the young officers."   

Many also pointed out the allegations of financial irregularities and corruption that Rao faced, including one case where his wife was involved with a shell company. After repeated demands, Twitter decided to take down the tweets, stating that it violated the guidelines of the website. 

Despite the backlash, Rao doubled down, tweeting, "Why do we celebrate as festivals, the days savages were dead? Because they're pests destroying society and their death is a cause for celebration. It was also to warn people not to patronise the bad."

Swami Agnivesh was best-known for his concerted battle against bonded labour. His organisation Bandhua Mukti Morcha (BMM) was formed in 1981.  In 1977, he was elected to the Haryana Assembly and even was made education minister. A popular leader of the Arya Samaj, he was elected President of the World Council of Arya Samaj (Sarvadeshik Arya Pratinidhi Sabha) in 2004. Agnivesh was known to help resolve conflicts, whether it was in militancy-ridden erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir or the Maoism-dominated hinterland.

With IANS inputs

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