The West Bengal government on Wednesday barred Vishva Hindu Parishad international working president Praveen Togadia, known for his controversial speeches, from entering the state.
The state home department issued a press statement saying, “Ex-parte prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC have been promulgated throughout the state of West Bengal by the respective district magistrates and commissioners of police on 31st March, 2015 prohibiting the entry of Dr Praveen Bhai Togadia, international working president of VHP.”
(From left) Activist Dina Nath Batra receives the Dr. Hedgewar Memorial Award from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat while BJP leader Murli Monohar Joshi looks on, in Kolkata on Wednesday. (Source: Express photo by Subham Dutta)
Slamming the circular, Togadia told The Indian Express: “It is Mamata Banerjee’s blunder to impose section 144 of the CrPC in entire West Bengal in view of my rally on April 5 in North Dinajpur district… Would Mamata didi arrest namazis on streets, people going to church on Good Friday and people participating in Hanuman Jayanti shobha yatra.”
He added: “Why ban entry of one man for rally of 2,000 people when the Supreme Court scraps article 66A for the Internet which reaches crores of people? Mamata didi’s decision would get Hindus and Jain votes for BJP… I wonder who really advised her to issue such a funny ban and section144 in all districts.”
The circular was issued on a day when RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was present in the city to attend Dr Hedgewar Pragya Samman, 2015.
Bhagwat refused to comment on the circular, but senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who was also present at the event, said: “It is wrong and it should not have happened.”
The circular said: “These orders have been issued by the district magistrates and police commissioners on the basis of information available with them. They apprehend that the entry of Dr Togadia, his holding of a closed door or public meetings and rallies would lead to communal tension and this will cause disturbance of public tranquility.”
Reacting to the prohibitory orders, Jagannath Sahi, central vice president of the VHP, told The Indian Express, “We are mulling legal action against this order. In a democracy, a Indian national cannot be barred to enter a state if there were no criminal charges against them. A few other states issued such order against Praveen Bhaiji. We moved to the court against such orders and we won.”
Terming the order as a “case of Muslim appeasement”, he said, “Bangladeshi nationals can enter Bengal, commit crime, export bomb, but an Indian national cannot enter the state. This is ridiculous.”
Togadia had held a meeting in Birbhum district on January 28 and it was reported that on the same day “ghar wapsi” of around 15 non-Hindu families was organised at a village in the district.
A senior home department official clarified that the order was not a reaction to any programme held by the VHP , but it is a “general order” to prevent any “inflammatory speeches” by Togadia. “We have not barred the entry of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. We did not do it because Mohanji’s speeches are not as inflammatory as Dr Togadia’s,” said the source.