FIR lodged against VHP leader Pravin Togadia for “hate speech”

An FIR was filed against VHP president Pravin Togadia on Monday after he allegedly said that Muslims should be stopped from buying property in Hindu-majority areas, drawing sharp attacks from various political parties. While the VHP leader denied making any anti-Muslim remark, the election commission sought a tape of his speech.

The BJP defended Togadia earlier in the day. “I talked to Togadiaji. He said he did not make such a statement,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told news persons in New Delhi.

Togadia sent a legal notice as most television chanels began flashing the news report. “That the report about a misinformed incident in Gujarat as appeared in an English newspaper… which per our information, has appeared in the said newspaper’s almost all India editions under varied headlines, is false, malafide and mischievous,” the notice said.

The election commission has sought the alleged recording of speech made by Togadia. According to news reports, the VHP leader, at a Saturday rally in Bhavnagar of Gujarat, said Muslims should be stopped from buying properties in Hindu areas.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Ram Madhav echoed similar sentiments.

“Pravinbhai had not said anything that was attributed to him. It was fabricated news. No Swayamsevak thinks on those lines,” Madhav tweeted. “No RSS member would ever force such views… We are one nation,” he said.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), meanwhile, demanded action against Togadia for “vitiating the peaceful atmosphere” during elections.

“This is an extremely shocking and a shameful act and goes against the constitution of India which provides equality and freedom for every citizen.

“The AAP also demands that the Election Commission of India should direct immediate registration of an FIR against Togadia and the commission should take strict action against him, so that he is not allowed to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere during elections,” a statement by the AAP read.

The Congress also came down heavily on Togadia for “spreading venom”. It said the VHP leader should be “hospitalised” for treatment.

“He always spreads venom, you know that. And he belongs to that category of people in this country who do not believe in the unity and the integrity of India. What can you say about people like this?” Congress leader and Union minister Kapil Sibal said.

Slamming the alleged statement, JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said, “Togadia seems to be influenced by Taliban mentality… No action has been taken against him due to a weak government”.

Fatehpuri mosque’s Mufti Mukkaram said the VHP leader should be arrested immediately.

The CPI(M) also lashed out at the VHP leader for his “hate speech” and sought his immediate arrest, saying that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who also holds the home portfolio, should take this action.

“As the home Minister of Gujarat, Modi should himself act (against Togadia) for his hate speech. If he doesn’t, then it is clear that Togadia said all this with his blessings,” CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said.

According to news reports, Togadia, at a Saturday rally in Bhavnagar of Gujarat, said Muslims should be stopped from buying properties in Hindu areas.

Togadia joined a group of VHP and Bajrang Dal members on Saturday night in a street protest outside a house purchased by a Muslim businessman near Meghani Circle in Bhavnagar.

While saffron groups have been regularly organising “Ram Dhun” and “Ram Darbar” programmes to thwart such deals, Togadia reportedly went a step further and asked the protestors to take complete control of the house and put a “Bajrang Dal” board on it.

The report said he gave the Muslim occupants 48 hours to vacate the house.

“If he does not relent, go with stones, tyres and tomatoes to his office. There is nothing wrong in it. Killers of Rajiv Gandhi have not been hanged … there is nothing to fear and the case will go on,” Togadia was quoted in the report as saying.

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