All India’s Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) expresses deep sorrow at the death of Swami Agnivesh who passed away at the Institute of Liver and Billary Sciences,in New Delhi, at the age of 80.
Swami Agnivesh was widely known for his campaign against bonded labour through his foundation Bandhua Mukti Morcha (Bonded Labour Liberation Front). He was elected to the Haryana Assembly in 1977 and was made education minister after two years. He had resigned from the post in protest against the Haryana government’s inaction against police opening fire at workers who were protesting against bonded labour. He had also served as the chairperson of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery for a decade, 1994-2004.
Swami Agnivesh was a strong supporter of women’s rights and actively participated in campaigns against female sex selective abortions, sati practice and dowry deaths and addressed the plight of child widows. He was relentless crusader for universal human rights, upliftment of the marginalised, oppressed sections and stood in defence of the Indian Constitution, social harmony, democratic rights and civil liberties. He had been opposing the communal forces and had been brutally attacked by the right wing goons in Jharkhand.
He was awarded with Right Livelihood Award in 2004, Rajiv Gandhi National Sadhbhavana Award in 2004 and M.A. Thomas National Rights Award in 2006. He expressed the need to address the issues of poverty and socio-economic inequalities and also voiced his concerns on ruinous debts of the Third World nations, cultural imperialism, development pattern, and unsustainable over consumption by the rich.