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Operation Bhushan: Accused's family bears the brunt

Last updated on: October 15, 2011 17:43 IST

Image: Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga at a rally
Sahim Salim

It has been a tough few days for families of the self-appointed moral brigade, which attacked Supreme Court lawyer and Team Anna member, Prashant Bhushan. Sahim Salim reports.

From late night visits to local police stations to judgmental questioning by the neighbors to being asked to vacate their residence, it is they who are facing the brunt of it all.

Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, the self-proclaimed president of little-known right wing outfit, Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, carries out his activities from home in Vishnu Garden in northwest Delhi.

His is a small Punjabi community with rows of residential buildings and crowded alleys. Bagga's two-bedroom ground-floor house lies inconspicuously in he middle of all this.

It is hard to believe that the attack on Bhushan and the earlier attacks on social activist Arundhati Roy and hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani were planned from here.

The house is locked and according to the landlord that is how it has been ever since the attack on Bhushan.

"They (his parents) leave early in the morning and return late at night ever since the attack. It has been a nightmare for them. On the night after the attack, sometime after 11 pm, some 20 policemen swooped down here asking for him. We all got scared since ours is a relatively peaceful area. His (Bagga's) father was taken to the local police station and came back only after 2 am," Bagga's landlord, Harjeet Singh says.


'I know what he has done is wrong'

Image: Bagga at an Arudhati Roy function

Bagga is an only son to garment trader Preet Pal Singh, who has a shop in the nearby Tilak Nagar market. This shop also has been closed for the past two days, according to a tea vendor near the shop. spoke with Preet Pal Singh over the phone. He says Bagga keenly follows what people say about Kashmir.

"I know what he has done is wrong. I always did try to tell him not to take law into his hand, but he never listened. He feels very strongly about the Kashmir issue and reacts aggressively. He reacted like this after hearing Arundhati Roy's speech too. I tried to tell him not to react like this after the Roy incident, but he did not listen," Preet Pal says.

Bagga was actively involved with Bharatiya Janta Party's youth-wing for almost two years. He reportedly left the organisation to form his own Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena about seven months ago.

"His group was largely internet based and I never did think he would do anything unlawful. I thought he had some political viewpoints, which is okay," Preet Pal adds.


I was not aware they functioned from here: Landlord

Image: Bagga with Bharatiya Janata Party leader L K Advani

The road ahead for Preet Pal and his wife is not easy. They have been asked to vacate their house by the first of next month.

"I can't possibly rent my house for anti-social activities. I am a decent family man trying to make a peaceful living. I was aware that he (Bagga) was part of the BJP, but having  political connections and being associated with a political party is alright. I was not aware that such an organisation (BSKS) functioned from here. As soon as the police told me that he did all his activities online, I had the internet disconnected. I can't get involved in such cases," Harjeet says.

Police sources investigating the case say that the organisation is a group of volunteers, which has no real office or set-up.

"Theirs is a group of 15-20 young people—mostly businessmen. They claim they have a branch in Pune, but this is yet to be verified. What we have established so far is that they are by and large an internet-based group, with most of the material penned and designed by Bagga. As far as the funds are concerned, they generate it among themselves," a senior police official said.


India's self-appointed moral brigade on the rise

Image: Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena's Facebook page

As to their activities, police said that in addition to the attacks on Bhushan, Roy and Geelani, the group actively participated in Anna Hazare's and Baba Ramdev's fasts.  According to photos posted on the group's blog, they camped outside Tihar Jail when Hazare was arrested.

Most of their activities are publicised and coordinated through the internet. After all, an internet connection is all it takes for Bagga's 'activities'.

The internet-savvy group has a Facebook page, a Twitter handle and a blog, which are regularly updated. From a mere 40, the number of members has gone up to 4,000 on the group's Facebook page.

Many people have posted congratulatory messages on the wall. Fans have posted Bagga's photoshopped photos, in which one-half of his face is that of a lion's.

Although right now they seem like a raggedy clump of misguided, zealous individuals, there is no denying of the rising popularity of BSKS on the Internet. This is a dangerous sign of the growth of India's self-appointed moral brigade.