Ghaziabad: Hindu activists vandalized the AAP head office here Wednesday, protesting a statement on Kashmir by party leader Prashant Bhushan, who blamed the BJP and allied groups for the attack.
Some 25 to 40 men waving flags and sticks barged into the Aam Aadmi Party office at Kaushambi, stoned and shattered glass windows, broke flower pots and abused AAP leaders, AAP leader Dilip Pandey told IANS.
They ransacked furniture inside the office, which is located not far from the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Before fleeing after some 20 minutes, the attackers threatened to target AAP leaders. Pandey said they were from a group called Hindu Raksha Dal. A Hindu Rakshal Dal banner was found at the site.
Bhushan blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allied groups for the attacks.
“The attack on our office and its supporters shows the tremendous frustration of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar over the rise of the AAP,” he told the media.
“The so-called nationalist party, the BJP, and its assorted organisations have resorted to violence and unleashed their goons on AAP and its supporters. This shows the lumpenization of the BJP,” he added.
The BJP sought to put the blame for the incident on Bhushan, a Supreme Court lawyer whose comments suggesting a referendum on army deployment in the Kashmir Valley sparked a furore. Kejriwal distanced himself and the AAP from the statement.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said in New Delhi: “We condemn the attack. No one has a right to take the law in their hands. But we must not forget the comments Bhushan made. We condemn that (too).”
At least one AAP member, Suresh, 35, was injured in the aggression. The attackers also held a woman party worker, Varsha, but she was not hurt as party activists pulled her inside the office.
There were some 45 people, including 10 women, at the site. This included people who had come to the party office to make representations to the Delhi government.
“All our volunteers were asked to get inside during the attack,” Pandey said, adding the attackers raised slogans against a particular community.
AAP members did not retaliate, Pandey said.
Asked if the arson was a reaction to Bhushan’s comments on army deployment in the Kashmir Valley, he said: “It may be possible.”
The attackers, in their 20s and 30s, came in three or five cars, witnesses said.
Superintendent of Police Muniraj said a police complaint had been registered and police officers had been assigned to arrest the culprits.
Muniraj told IANS that the AAP office would now be given security.
Some witnesses had furnished the police the registration numbers of the cars in which the men reached the AAP office. “We are hopeful of arresting them,” Muniraj said.
Bhushan said Wednesday he had clarified that his suggestion of a referendum vis-a-vis the army deployment in the Kashmir Valley in no way questioned Jammu and Kashmir’s merger with India.
“Previously also the same people had attacked me in my (Supreme Court) chamber but unfortunately Delhi Police allowed them to go scot free.”