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A lesson for cry-babies from dagger-threatened Rawat

Police suspect the 'miscreant' identified as Vinod Kumar, has mental health problems
Harish Rawat.
Harish Rawat.
File photo

Piyush Srivastava   |   Lucknow   |   Published 08.01.22, 02:40 AM

As conspiracies go, this one checks all the boxes.

  •  The man had just garlanded former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat.
  •  Then the middle-aged man brandished a 12-inch dagger.
  •  The knife-wielder shouted “Jai Shri Ram” and threatened to kill those who did not follow suit.
  •  The would-be assailant had recently climbed a cellphone tower demanding a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Yet, Rawat, a Congress veteran, said a day later on Friday: “I don’t know him and I don’t want to call it a conspiracy. Such things don’t bother me.”

Police suspect that the man, identified as Vinod Kumar, has mental health problems. But the events that unfolded in Udham Singh Nagar on Thursday and Vinod’s past would have been sufficient for the former chief minister to raise Cain like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP did after the Punjab incident on Wednesday.

Rawat, the most prominent Opposition leader in poll-bound Uttarakhand, approached the matter with the maturity and restraint expected from a seasoned public figure.

“I heard some people shouting. But I had to go somewhere else,” Rawat said on Friday, declining to call it a conspiracy in sharp contrast with the high-decibel campaign being whipped up by the BJP after the blockade that forced Modi to cry off a rally in Punjab.

Not that Rawat did not express concern. “However, Yashpal Arya was with me and I was concerned about him,” said Rawat, who has six policemen in his security detail. Arya, a former transport minister in the BJP government, and his son Sanjiv joined the Congress in October 2021.

On Thursday, Rawat was climbing down the stairs of the dais at Kashipur in Udham Singh Nagar when Vinod, sporting a saffron scarf, rushed towards the microphone, holding aloft a 12-inch dagger, started chanting Jai Shri Ram and threatened to kill those on the stage if they did not echo him.

Vinod gave the police the slip but was arrested a few hours later. Manoj Raturi, the police station in-charge of Kashipur, said: “Vinod Kumar is a resident of Pratappur village. We have arrested him. He appears mentally unsound.”

Arranging for the security of a former chief minister is the responsibility of the state government. The hill state of Uttarakhand is ruled by the BJP and the Congress believes it has a bright chance of returning to power next year.

The police said they were probing the security lapse at the former chief minister’s event.

Dilip Singh Kunwar, the senior superintendent of police of Udham Singh Nagar, said: “The former chief minister was near the dais at the time of the incident. We are taking legal action against this man (Vinod). Recently, he had climbed a telephone tower and demanded that the local authorities connect him to the Prime Minister as he had something to share with him. We had convinced him to come down. We are probing the security lapse at the former chief minister’s event.”

None in the BJP commented officially on the incident. Neither would they say if special prayers would be held to ward off the threats against Rawat.

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