A metropolitan court here on Tuesday dropped all charges against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia and 38 other accused, including BJP MLA from Daskroi Babu Jamnadas Patel, in a two-decade-old attempt to murder case after allowing the prosecution’s application for the same.
This comes days after the same court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate J V Barot issued non-bailable warrants against Togadia and other accused to appear before the court. “The order was pronounced, exonerating all the 39 accused in the case,” said Public Prosecutor Y K Vyas.
Togadia thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, his deputy Nitin Patel and Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja for “withdrawing” the case against him. In a text message to The Indian Express, Togadia said, “My friends Vijaybhai (Rupani), Nitinbhai (Patel) and Pradeepsinh have withdrawn an old political case. Thank You.”
At the same time, he cautioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to not break the ladder which helped him to rise”.
In an apparent reference to Modi as ‘mota bhai’ or elder brother, Togadia said: “Aasha hai mota bhai bhi aasmaan se nazar thodi zameen par karke humare jaise purane mitron se samvaad ke kasht karein, hum zameen se judey laakhon karyakartaon se judey hain. Saath baithkar samvaad videshon se karte hain, desh mein baithe hum jaison se bhi kabhi samvaad karein. Samay ka pahiya aur ishwar ke nirnay planted media stories aur manufactured survey par nahin hotey. Jin seediyon se chadhkar upar gaye, unhein toda nahin jaata. Yeh Bharat ka sanskaar nahin hai. Deshbhakti, Hindutva, koi show ke event nahin hai. (I hope that the big brother looks down from the sky to the earth and takes the trouble to have a dialogue with old friends like us. We are connected with lakhs of workers on the ground. He speaks with the leaders of foreign countries, sometimes he should talk to those like us sitting within the country. The wheel of time or God’s decisions, is not based on planted media stories or manufactured surveys. Ladders which helped you to climb to this height should not be broken. This is not Indian culture. Patriotism, Hindutva is not a show or an event)”.
When asked to clarify who was “mota bhai”, Togadia replied: “There is only one mota bhai in the country. My message is clear that we can both work together for the nation.”
Togadia also said that he was “thankful to Vasundhara Raje government (in Rajasthan) for “withdrawing the case” against him. Recently, the Rajasthan government had ordered withdrawal of a 15-year-old case against Togadia related to violation of section 144 of the CrPC. On January 19, Rajasthan Police had presented the government order to a court in Gangapur City of Sawai Madhopur district.
The attempt to murder case dates back to May 20, 1996 when then senior BJP leader Atmaram Patel and other leaders were attacked by Keshubhai Patel loyalists at a party event. Atmaram Patel, who was close to Shankersinh Vaghela, had to flee for life after the attackers stripped him of his dhoti. The incident, known as the “Atmaram dhoti kaand”, had brought to fore the rebellion within the BJP, resulting in Vaghela breaking away from the BJP to launch his own party.