Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
PLOT TO KILL ME FOR RAISING RAM TEMPLE ISSUE, SAYS VHP CHIEF TOGADIA
Says Rajasthan, Guj cops after him for raising Ram Temple, cow protection issue
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.