Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)


Says Ra­jasthan, Guj cops af­ter him for rais­ing Ram Tem­ple, cow pro­tec­tion is­sue

- Hi­ral Dave let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com (With agency in­puts)

AHMED­ABAD: Se­nior Vishwa Hindu Par­ishad (VHP) leader Pravin To­ga­dia al­leged on Tues­day that “some peo­ple” are plot­ting to kill him to si­lence his voice on is­sues such as the Ram tem­ple at Ay­o­d­hya and cow pro­tec­tion.

The re­marks came a day af­ter he went miss­ing for al­most 12 hours in Ahmed­abad.

A tear­ful To­ga­dia told re­porters that he went into hid­ing on Mon­day be­cause he feared for his life af­ter learn­ing that a joint team of Gu­jarat and Ra­jasthan po­lice was on its way to ar­rest him in a decade-old case.

Both Ra­jasthan and Gu­jarat are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regimes. The VHP is an af­fil­i­ate of the saf­fron party’s ide­o­log­i­cal par­ent, the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS).

“There is an at­tempt to sup­press my voice; some­one told me a plan was be­ing made to kill me in an en­counter,” the 62-year-old in­ter­na­tional work­ing pres­i­dent of VHP said, although he did not ven­ture any the­o­ries on the iden­tity of the peo­ple be­hind the plot.

Cen­tral in­tel­li­gence agen­cies were threat­en­ing him in or­der to “si­lence his voice” on mat­ters such as the Ay­o­d­hya is­sue and cow pro­tec­tion, To­ga­dia claimed.

At a press con­fer­ence hours later, Ahmed­abad po­lice de­nied all charges and in­di­cated To­ga­dia might have faked an ill­ness.

Later in the day, Pati­dar leader Hardik Pa­tel and Congress’s Ar­jun Mod­hwa­dia vis­ited To­ga­dia in the hospi­tal.

“Pres­i­dent of a Hindu or­gan­i­sa­tion is in dan­ger, farmer is in dan­ger, the un­em­ployed is in dan­ger and Hin­dus­tan is in dan­ger,” Pa­tel told re­porters out­side the hospi­tal.

The Congress de­manded an in­quiry. “The law and or­der sit­u­a­tion in Gu­jarat has com­pletely de­te­ri­o­rated and it re­flects in what To­ga­dia claimed to­day. We de­mand an in­quiry into To­ga­dia’s al­le­ga­tions to bring out the truth,” state Congress pres­i­dent Bharatsinh Solanki said.

The state­ments of Congress and Hardik Pa­tel aren’t sur­pris­ing. To­ga­dia has, for years, shared a frac­tious re­la­tion­ship with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. Some po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts say that dur­ing his time as Gu­jarat’s chief min­is­ter, Modi marginalis­ed VHP’s in­flu­ence in the state.

Around 10.30 am Mon­day, the fire­brand Hin­dutva leader was re­ported miss­ing from the VHP’s of­fice in Ahmed­abad’s Paldi area.

He was found at night around 9.20pm when he was brought un­con­scious to a pri­vate hospi­tal roughly eight kilo­me­ters away. Rup­ku­mar Agrawal, a doc­tor at the Chan­dra­mani Pri­vate Hospi­tal , said on Mon­day night that To­ga­dia’s sugar level was “very down” but that he was stable.

Nar­rat­ing the se­quence of events, To­ga­dia said he was tipped off by a per­son on Mon­day morn­ing.

“A per­son ar­rived at the VHP of­fice when I was into my morn­ing prayers, and in­formed me that a team is out to do your en­counter. I came to know that Ra­jasthan Po­lice, along with Sola (Ahmed­abad) po­lice was reach­ing the of­fice, I took my purse, left the se­cu­rity cover at of­fice and got in an auto rick­shaw’’.

To­ga­dia has Z-cat­e­gory se­cu­rity but left his guard at the VHP of­fice.

Ra­jasthan po­lice said the ar­rest war­rant was is­sued by a ses­sions court in Gan­ga­pur un­der the In­dian Pe­nal Code’s Sec­tion 188, which per­tains to dis­obe­di­ence of a pub­lic ser­vant’s or­der. To­ga­dia had al­legedly vi­o­lated pro­hibitory or­ders un­der Sec­tion 144 — which lim­its the as­sem­bly of peo­ple — in the Ra­jasthan town 16 years ago.

Sola po­lice sta­tion of­fi­cials said a team of Ra­jasthan Po­lice vis­ited them on Mon­day to ex­e­cute an ar­rest war­rant against To­ga­dia but could not find him at his res­i­dence.

Both Gu­jarat and Ra­jasthan Po­lice had said they had not de­tained or ar­rested him.

To­ga­dia claimed that he called Ra­jasthan’s home min­is­ter (Gu­lab Chand Kataria) and chief min­is­ter (Va­sund­hara Raje) once he got into his auto on Mon­day but that both al­legedly de­nied any knowl­edge of po­lice ac­tion.

“That got me sus­pi­cious. While I wanted to save my­self, I also wanted to fol­low the law. So I switched off my two cell phones. I reached a worker’s home and from some­one’s phone num­ber got in touch with lawyers in Ra­jasthan, who ad­vised me to ap­pear in the court.”

To­ga­dia claimed he left for Ahmed­abad air­port to catch a flight for Jaipur around 3pm on Mon­day. “Some­thing hap­pened to my health af­ter I took an auto-rick­shaw for the air­port. It was around 3pm. Next I know I was wo­ken up in a hospi­tal,’’ he said.

But the crime branch of the Ahmed­abad Po­lice de­nied this. Joint com­mis­sioner of po­lice JK Bhatt said around 11.30am on Mon­day, To­ga­dia reached the house of an in­di­vid­ual named Ghan­shyamb­hai Cha­ran­das in the city’s Thal­tej area.

Cha­ran­das called his driver, who also called an am­bu­lance, be­fore drop­ping them off at Ko­tarpur.

“When am­bu­lance reached the spot, To­ga­dia, ac­com­pa­nied by Ghan­shyamb­hai, was con­scious and his pa­ram­e­ters were nor­mal. Though am­bu­lance staff was tak­ing them to nearby civil hospi­tal, the duo in­sisted on go­ing to a pri­vate hospi­tal,” he added.

To­ga­dia claimed old cases were be­ing opened with­out the knowl­edge of se­nior lead­ers in an at­tempt to frame him. He didn’t men­tion at whose in­sis­tence this is be­ing done.

He cited the ex­am­ple of a 1996 at­tempt-to-mur­der case in Gu­jarat, in which a war­rant was is­sued against him by an Ahmed­abad court ear­lier this month. To­ga­dia ap­peared in court on Jan­uary 6 but claimed nei­ther chief min­is­ter Vi­jay Ru­pani nor state home min­is­ter Pradeepsin­h Jadeja knew about it.

“Old cases are be­ing re­opened, so that I can be ar­rested. An at­tempt is be­ing made to sti­fle my voice by ar­rest­ing me in dif­fer­ent states,” To­ga­dia added.

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 ?? AFP ?? Vishwa Hindu Par­ishad chief Pravin To­ga­dia in Gu­jarat, Tues­day.
AFP Vishwa Hindu Par­ishad chief Pravin To­ga­dia in Gu­jarat, Tues­day.

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