The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) international working president Pravin Togadia has gone missing. A Rajasthan police team that went to Ahmedabad to arrest him in connection with an old case said it returned empty-handed, failing to execute the warrant.
Confirming that Togadia was missing, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ahmedabad JK Bhatt said Ahmedabad police have formed four teams to locate his whereabouts, denying that he had been arrested either by Gujarat or Rajasthan police as was being speculated by VHP workers and followers, reported The Hindu
“We are trying to find his location. He left in an auto around 10:45 this morning from VHP office in the city,” Bhatt told media persons. Bhatt said that Togadia enjoys Z plus security cover but on Monday, he did not take any security guard with him while leaving from the VHP office in an auto along with a bearded man.
“Rajasthan police team came to Ahmedabad after an arrest warrant was issued against VHP leader. Our police extended help Rajasthan cops to visit Dr Togadia’s residence and also VHP office but we could not find him in either location,” Bhatt said, The Hindu reported.
Sola police officials said the Rajasthan police had sought their help in executing the arrest warrant. “Rajasthan police today sought our help to execute the warrant against Pravin Togadia, as his residence falls in our area. The warrant, related to section 188 of the IPC, was issued by a sessions court in Gangapur. We took the Rajasthan Police to Togadia’s residence but he was not found there,” said Sola police station inspector JS Patel, a report in The Indian Express said.
As the news of Togadia going missing spread, hundreds of VHP workers gathered at Sola police station and threatened to launch a nationwide protests if Togadia was not released immediately.
Some local leaders even expressed fear of his encounter by cops from Rajasthan and Gujarat. “Pravinbhai is missing, his mobile is switched off and his location is not traceable,” Gujarat VHP leader Ranchhodbhai Bharwad told media.
“Our International Working President Pravin Togadia is missing since 10 am. The responsibility of his whereabouts and security lies with the administration,” PTI quoted VHP’s Gujarat unit general secretary Ranchod Bharwad as saying.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Jay Shah claimed Togadia was detained by the Rajasthan Police and was taken away by them. “Our leader Pravin Togadia has been detained in an old case and was taken away by the Rajasthan Police from the VHP state headquarters in Paldi area of the city,” he said.
However, the Rajasthan Police denied rumours that Togadia was in their custody and said they were returning empty-handed. “Togadia was not at all arrested by our team. The police team of Gangapur (in Rajasthan) is returning without executing the arrest warrant, as he (Togadia) was not found in Ahmedabad,” said Inspector General of Police, Bharatpur range, Alok Kumar Vashishtha.