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Togadia arrested for defying ban
on distribution of tridents
April 13, 2003 23:30 IST
VHP leader Pravin Togadia was on Sunday night arrested shortly after he distributed tridents to Bajrang Dal activists in Ajmer defying a ban and prohibitory orders.
Terming the arrest as 'high-handed', the VHP has called a Rajasthan bandh on Tuesday in protest.
Togadia distributed the tridents among a gathering of 3,000 Bajrang Dal activists amid chanting of hymns and slogans at the Subhash Udyan.
Addressing the gathering, Togadia said the coming assembly polls in Rajasthan would be fought on the issue of tridents and attacked the state's ruling Congress for 'placating' Muslims for electoral gains.
He said the Ashok Gehlot government had, by banning tridents, given publicity to the trishul deeksha function which he would not have got even after spending lakhs of rupees.
But within hours, police arrested the VHP leader near Kishanganj, about 40km from Ajmer, as he headed towards Jaipur after the tridents distribution function at Subhash Udyan in this holy town, a senior police official told PTI in Jaipur.
Togadia was arrested under the Arms Act, the official said.
The Rajasthan government had on April 8 banned distribution, possession and carrying of tridents in the state except at religious places.
"The arrest is a mockery of democracy and we will fight it," VHP senior vice-president Giriraj Kishore told PTI. "The government itself had clarified there was no ban on tridents with less than six inch long blades," he claimed.
Earlier, Togadia was briefly stopped by police from entering Ajmer as he was going to attend a dharamsabha (religious gathering) and trishul deeksha (trident distribution ceremony) in a convoy of 10 vehicles, Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) A K Jain told PTI.
The VHP leader's convoy was stopped when it was returning from Nasirabad via Palra where he addressed trainees at a camp, Jain said.
After heated arguments with the police, Togadia and 50 supporters walked from Makhupura towards the city but they were again stopped near Martin Bridge, five km from the venue of the function.
Authorities tried to persuade Togadia to call off his journey to the venue of trishul diksha but to no avail.
Togadia was then taken alone to the venue of the dharamsabha in a bulletproof vehicle, the IG said.
Two companies of the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and three units of the Rapid Action Force were deployed around the venue and in the city.
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