Pravin Togadia claims there is threat to his life, says will surrender before court once cleared by doctors

FP Staff
The situation Togadia found himself in — his state of mind and the run-ins with the Narendra Modi government — didn't happen overnight. For the past decade, Togadia has been taking up cudgels in the name of Hindus against BJP leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, LK Advani and Narendra Modi. In the process, Togadia fell by the wayside — in the Sangh Parivar's scheme of things — even before the emergence of Narendra Modi on the national stage.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia, who went missing and was later found in an unconscious state on Monday evening, has claimed there is a threat to his life, and that his voice is being suppressed through threats of violence and false court cases.

Togadia, national working president of the VHP, was addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, hours after doctors confirmed he was suffering from low blood sugar levels. But Togadia insisted he was on his way to Jaipur to present himself before a court when he fell unconscious.

"I told my security team I am going out by myself. I left alone at around 3 pm on Monday. But my health soon worsened and I fell unconscious. I don't remember anything after that point. When I regained consciousness, I was in a hospital. I don't remember which hospital this was, or even who brought me there. All I remember is that doctors told me my health isn't good and I shouldn't exert myself," Togadia said on Tuesday.

He also denied all the charges levelled against him, saying they were borne out of vendetta, in order to muffle his voice. "They have filed cases against me under various offences. I myself don't know about many of these cases. They are all attempts to suppress my voice," a tearful Togadia said. "I am in touch with lawyers in Rajasthan. They said they will try and get the cases quashed."

Furthermore, he said, there are also people making death threats. "A person came to me when I was praying and said they will encounter me. I didn't pay him much attention initially, but then I started receiving calls as well that alleged the same. So now they are using both violence and court cases to target me," he said.

These attempts, however, will not dissuade him from continuing on his path, he insisted. "I have never run from the law and I don't fear anybody. So, I am not running away. I am waiting until the doctors give me a clean chit of health and permit me to travel out of town. Once they do that, I will present myself before the court in Jaipur," he said.

He also urged VHP workers to keep calm. However, on Monday evening, after news of Togadia going missing made the rounds, the activists created a ruckus in Ahmedabad, alleging that the police, in connivance with their Rajasthan counterparts, had taken Togadia into custody in connection with a 10-year-old murder case. Angry VHP workers on Monday took to streets after reports said Togadia had been arrested and continued sit-ins even after a Gujarat police statement that he had gone "missing".

The police said that a contingent of Rajasthan Police had indeed come to arrest him under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the IPC in an old case, but could not find him at his residence.

Earlier this year, on 5 January, Togadia had alleged a conspiracy had been hatched against him by a "higher up in the BJP" to implicate and jail him in a 1996 murder case by ensuring he did not get the summons issued against him. The Metropolitan Court on Friday cancelled a non-bailable warrant issued against Togadia, once a powerful figure in the Hindutva camp.

"The police did not make those summons available to me. I have received information that this was done purposefully by someone higher up, without the intervention of (state) home minister or the chief minister," he had said.

Togadia added, "Just like it happened during the Patidar agitation, when (then chief minister) Anandiben Patel said she did not order the lathicharge on agitators, this case is similar. (Deputy chief minister) Nitin Patel, (chief minister) Vijay Rupani wouldn't do that. Why were the summons not made available to me despite my presence in Ahmedabad? Since some time I feel my voice is being gagged. I will later reveal who is behind it all," he added.

With inputs from agencies View More