A day after he went “missing” to purportedly evade arrest in a more than a decade-old case, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)’s International Working President Pravin Togadia made startling revelations at a press conference in Ahmedabad Tuesday, claiming that he received a tip-off that he will be killed in a police encounter.
Appearing before the media in a white kurta and pyjama, with an aide carrying a saline bottle in tow, the 61-year-old VHP leader said: “While I was offering Pooja yesterday morning, one person entered my office and said that I will be killed in police encounter.”
Togadia said he left his office after he came to know that Rajasthan Police was in Gujarat to arrest him, and had switched off his phone so that his location cannot be traced.
“I left office when I came to know that Rajasthan police had come to arrest me. I left office thinking my arrest would lead to chaos. I switched off my phone and went to Thaltej to an activists’ office,” he said.
He alleged that cases were foisted against him to muzzle his voice. In the middle of the media briefing, Togadia became emotional and broke down while narrating yesterday’s events. Togadia said he was on his way to the airport when he fell unconscious near Kotarpur.
“I contacted all my advocates in Gujarat and Rajasthan. They advised me to surrender before court. So I left for the airport to reach Jaipur. On the way, I fell near Kotarpur. I don’t remember anything else. I was alone covering myself with a shawl to dodge police,” he said.
He requested the Gujarat Crime Branch to not succumb to “political pressure” as he has done nothing wrong.
“I am not escaping. I have no complaints with Gujarat or Rajasthan police. All I have to say to Gujarat police that why were you going to search my room. Am I a criminal. Have not done anything wrong. I request Crime Branch not to get under political pressure,” he said.
On Monday, Togadia was found mysteriously at Kotarpur, close to the Ahmedabad airport. He was then taken to a private hospital in Shahibaug in a “semi-conscious” state, caused by hypoglycemia, according to doctors attending to him.
Scores of VHP activists took to the streets Monday evening after reports of Togadia’s arrest and continued sit-ins even after a Gujarat police statement that he had gone “missing”.
Protests were reported in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Bhuj among other places in the state where the protesters tried to block highways and targeted public buses. Dozens of protesters were detained by the police.