After the Union Home Ministry issued an advisory, the Maharashtra Police have finally registered an FIR against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia (in pic) on Thursday for allegedly delivering a hate speech in a rally in Bhokara town, Nanded district on January 22.
“The home ministry’s advise is clear. Once they have confirmed forensic evidence, appropriate action as per law must be taken against Togadia,” a senior official said.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Javed Ahmed told Deccan Herald that a case for creating communal disharmony has been registered against the VHP leader in Nanded.
Officials in the state police headquarters disclosed that the FIR will probe the VHP leader’s speech under Sections 153 and 505 of the IPC. Both the sections deal with divisive statements “made to create enmity, hatred on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language etc.”
The state government came under severe pressure from the Centre to register a case against the VHP leader known for using “inflammatory language and invectives against minorities”.
Togadia’s speech in the communally sensitive town had sparked off a furore and Maharashtra Minister for Minorities Naseem Khan on Thursday said that there was “enough evidence to book the VHP leader.”
He said: “Togadia was trying to polarise society with an eye on the elections. If Owaisi can be booked then Togadia should also be booked. We cannot have double standards.”
The state government, along with top police officers were in a quandary as the local police and the special branch present at the rally stated in their record that they did not find “the speech inflammatory.”
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, closeted with top bureaucrats and police officials till late evening, refused to confirm or deny registering a case. Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil, who is camping in Delhi, said that the home department and police officials were studying the speech before taking any action.
However, pressure was mounted on the state government when Congress leader Digvijay Singh stated that religious leaders cannot be allowed to play with communal harmony in the country.
“I assure you, if he (Togadia) has violated any law, law will take its course,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi, while Left leader Sitaram Yechury too felt that action should be initiated against Togadia.