'Missing' VHP leader Pravin Togadia found unconscious

'Missing' VHP leader Pravin Togadia found unconscious

In a bizarre incident, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia, who has Z-plus security protecting him,  went missing from his organisation's office in Ahmedabad on Monday.

VHP activists led a series of protests across major towns of Gujarat state. They  blocked roads and forced people out of city and state transport buses late Monday evening in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Surat.

Trouble began after news of the "arrest" of Pravin Togadia by Ganganagar Police of Rajasthan in a 10-year-old case started doing the rounds. Several VHP workers gathered at Sola Police Station here, whose personnel were said to have accompanied Rajasthan Police to arrest the VHP leader.

"I would like to clarify that Sola police officials had accompanied Rajasthan policemen to Togadia's house but he was not found. Post this formalities were completed at the Sola police station. Neither Rajasthan police, nor we have arrested Pravin Togadia," J K Bhatt, Joint Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, told mediapersons.

He, however, said that as the VHP leader was accorded Z-plus security, a guard was always stationed outside his premises. "Togadia had come to VHP office at Paldi in the morning and told the guard outside – Head constable Vikramsinh – that he would be back in half-an-hour. He then hailed an autorickshaw and went somewhere. He was accompanied by a bearded person," Bhatt said.

On why no escort was present with the VHP leader, Bhatt said that it was Togadia who had asked his escort on Sunday night not to come before 2.30 pm on Monday. "By the time the escort arrived, the incident had happened," he said.  

The VHP workers insisted on knowing the whereabouts of their leader. "He has already expressed doubts about his safety and we want to know where our leader is," Ranchhod Bharwad, a senior VHP leader, told mediapersons.

Police branch out

The crime branch, meanwhile, formed four teams and was sourcing CCTV footage. "We are trying to trace  Pravin Togadia and hopefully will succeed in our endeavour," Bhatt said.

VHP leaders appealed to their protesting workers not to take law into their hands. "I urge the workers to have patience. We are going to file a complaint at Ahmedabad Crime Branch," Bharwad, said.

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