NEW DELHI: Political leaders, rights activists and the general public on Saturday paid their last respects to Swami Agnivesh, and remembered him as a "truly secular" person who fought for the rights of bonded labourers and women.
Social activist Agnivesh, who was suffering from liver cirrhosis for a long time, died of multi-organ failure at a Delhi hospital on Friday.
He was 80.
His mortal remains were consigned to flames by Swami Aryavesh, the president of the World Council of Arya Samaj, at the Agnilok Ashram in Behelpa, Gurgaon around 4 PM.
Before that, Agnivesh's body was kept at his office at 7, Jantar Mantar Road for people to pay their last respects.
"He was a great friend of the entire Left movement. He used to call me comrade and I also addressed him as comrade Swami.
He never hesitated in identifying himself with progressive forces fighting for the poor," CPI leader D Raja said.
"Despite his saffron dress, he was secular to the core. He was a champion of bonded labourers in the country," he said.
Top leaders of the DMK and the PMK, M K Stalin and S Ramadoss, condoled the death of Agnivesh.
"Despite being attacked by communal forces many times, he remained steadfast on his policies," Stalin said in a statement.
PMK founder S Ramadoss mourned the death of his 'friend' Swami Agnivesh and said he was supportive of the party's stand against alcohol and smoking.
Political activist Yogendra Yadav said Swami Agnivesh was a representative of the Hindu principle of tolerance and respect for every religion -- "Sarva Dharma Sambhava".
"He respected every religion the way he venerated his own....He made us understand the real meaning of 'dharma'...which is not being in a temple or an ashram, but being among the poor and serving them," he said.
Lawyer Mehmood Pracha said Swami Agnivesh fought for bonded labourers, women and child rights and the fight will continue even after his demise.
"Recently, he was attacked on many occasions by people belonging to certain groups who were against his ideology," he said.
Those who came to pay last respects wore masks and followed COVID-19 protocols.
Agnivesh was critically ill and admitted to the ICU at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.
He and was on ventilator support since Tuesday.