A DAY after he went missing and was found unconscious in a park in Ahmedabad hours later, VHP International Working President Pravin Togadia Tuesday alleged that he knew of a plot to kill him in a “police encounter”.
Countering his claim, the Gujarat police said Togadia “faked” the entire incident in collusion with his driver and a doctor from the private hospital where he’s presently admitted.
The Ahmedabad police Monday evening reported Togadia as “untraceable” even as a Rajasthan police team landed in the city to execute a court-ordered arrest warrant. While the VHP leader was found unconscious in a park and rushed to a private hospital
Joint Commissioner of Police, Detection of Crime Brance, J K Bhatt Tuesday evening told reporters that “the claims made by Pravin Togadia are false.” He said the police probe had found that Togadia and his associates faked the entire story in collusion with a doctor from the private hospital.
A senior DCB officer told The Indian Express that Togadia left his office (VHP headquarters) at 11 AM Monday morning and stayed with an associate identified as Ghanshyam Charandas at his house, which was captured in CCTV footage.
“At Kotarpur they used the phone of driver Nikul and called the 108 medical service that Togadia was lying unconscious. Based on statements of concerned persons and call data records it has been found that the doctor was informed much in advance and had told his staff to prepare for a VIP patient,” the officer said.
Togadia addressed a 30-minute press conference Tuesday sitting in a wheel chair while an aide carried a saline drip. He broke down twice as he alleged the plot to have him killed. He claimed an informant had told him of the “encounter” but refused to identify his source.
“An informant told me there was a plan to kill me in a police encounter. I got another call saying that a team of Rajasthan police was looking for me and to avoid any untoward incident after my arrest I left my office (VHP headquarters at Paldi) and told a security guard that I will be back,” he said.
Asked who was behind the conspiracy to kill him, Togadia refused to divulge names. He only said, “When the Gujarat Chief Minister and Home Minister do not know about the warrant against me, then who is behind it?”. He added that his voice was being “muzzled”.
According to Togadia, “old cases” were being reopened against him “to suppress the voice of Hindus, the construction of the Ram Mandir and saving cows.”
Among those to visit him Tuesday were Patidar quota agitation leaders Hardik Patel and Dinesh Bhambaniya, and retired IPS officer DG Vanzara who is out on bail in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case and discharged in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case.
Togadia and the BJP have been at odds recently after the VHP leader, particularly after his statements on cow vigilantees. Togadia had publicly differed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and had said the PM had insulted gau rakshaks by calling such groups anti social.
Togadia was reported missing Monday morning when a team of Rajasthan police knocked on his door in Ahmedabad’s Sola area. By the late evening protests had erupted across the state after VHP members took to the streets.
Togadia’s close aides claimed that such warrants issued against him would increase. Sources believe an internal power struggle in the VHP in which one faction want him to leave his present post is the cause.
“Since 2001 when Narendra Modi became the chief minister and 2002 post Godhra riots, the charm of Pravinbhai started to fade. He was no longer the same. And over the past few years people within the VHP are not happy with his working style,” said a VHP functionary.
According to RSS and VHP office bearers “It is now well-known that once bosom friends Togadia and Modi don’t go along for quite some time.” Togadia has openly attacked Modi even after the latter became PM. In 2015 Togadia attacked Modi’s foreign policy with Pakistan and said that “instead of Sarees, shawls and mangoes” there should be a cross border strike.
Togadia is said to be going public in the days to come over the cases against him.
“I am not escaping from the law. I have no complaints with Gujarat or Rajasthan police about searching my room. Am I criminal? I have not done anything wrong. I request the Crime Branch not to work under political pressure,” Togadia said at the hospital.