A section of Congress workers on Tuesday morning allegedly heckled and shoved a woman keen to ask Union minister of state Jyotiraditya Scindia a question on arrested cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, embarrassing the leader.
Half-an-hour later, the junior minister for industries and commerce personally apologised to the India Against Corruption (IAC) volunteer, Archana Sharma. He shouted at the unruly Congress leaders after giving her a patient hearing. But by then, his party workers had assaulted several IAC volunteers standing outside the venue of his news meet.
When Scindia asked reporters to field questions around 10.30am after briefing them at Scada Business Centre, Archana came forward and said: “Mr Scindia, I have a question for you. Allow me to ask.”
Before Scindia could respond, some Congress workers sought her identity. Archana said: “I am a common citizen and I have the right to get an answer to my question from a man who is our Union minister.”
The Congress workers immediately asked Archana to leave the conference hall but she refused. In a louder voice she iterated: “Sir, I just want to ask you a question.”
Realising Archana was in no mood to budge, the Congress workers started dragging her out of the hall. Scindia’s pleas to them to allow the woman to speak drowned in explicits.
When the Congress workers allegedly tried to assault Archana, she screamed “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”. But labelling her an RSS agent, the party officials drove her out of the hall.
Around 25 IAC volunteers standing outside the hall tried to protect Archana. But they also got beaten up.
The sloganeering of the IAC volunteers infuriated the Congress workers further and the latter tried to drive the anti-corruption activists away physically. A senior citizen was assaulted and clothes of several volunteers were torn. A Congress worker threw away the shoes of Archana.
Disgusted with the unruly behaviour of the grand old party’s members, Archana sat down outside the conference hall and told reporters: “We have been demanding the release of the cartoonist, Trivedi. We also want the sedition charges levelled against him to be dropped. He is a cartoonist and has every right to express his thoughts. I had come here to ask a question to Scindia regarding his arrest. But the Congress workers insulted me, thrashed me and abused me. Is this the way to treat a woman? What kind of respect they will give to their mother and sisters?”
IAC volunteer Dhiraj Singh, who was also beaten up, said: “What kind of people are they? They acted like goons. It shows the culture of the Congress. We were protesting peacefully. They should not have assaulted us. It is completely unethical.”
Senior anti-corruption activist Radhe Shyam Singh Yadav, who was also not spared by the Congress workers, said: “They should have talked to us before beating us up.”
Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee president Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Quaiser found nothing wrong in the act of his party workers, though. He told The Telegraph: “The anti-graft activists were raising slogans against Soniaji (Gandhi) and Manmohan Singhji. How can any Congress worker tolerate that?”
He said the IAC delegates were trying to disrupt the news meet. “To bring the situation under control, our workers did whatever they had to.”