India Hindu leader in 'hate speech' row

Pravin Togadia of the right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad allegedly called Muslims to be evicted from Hindu areas.

    India Hindu leader in 'hate speech' row
    The VHP was founded by a group of senior leaders from a hard-line Hindu organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [AFP]

    The leader of the right-wing Hindu organisation, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), in India has called for eviction of Muslims from a Hindu area in the western state of Gujarat, drawing criticism from politicians.

    Pravin Togadia, member of the hardline VHP reportedly targeted Muslims for buying properties in the Hindu dominated Bhavnagar area of the state of which opposition leader Narendra Modi is the chief minister since 2001.

    "We should have it in us [Hindus] to take the law in our own hands in an area where we are a majority and scare them [Muslims]," he told supporters, according to the Times of India report on Monday.

    Reports said that Togadia allegedly insisted that Muslims be stopped from "buying Hindu properties" and that a Muslim family which had bought a home in one such area be forcibly evicted.

    Polcie have filed a case against Togadia for his controversial remarks.

    Shocking remarks 

    The ruling Congress party and the anti-corruption party, the Aam Admi Party (AAP), both criticised the VHP leader, calling his comments "unconstitutional" and "extremely shocking". 

    Togadia, however, has denied having made such remarks. 

    "Some people gathered and told me that Muslims are forcibly throwing us out, I asked them to take help of the police. The story is not about Muslims getting thrown out; it is about Muslims forcing Hindus out of their houses," he was quoted as saying by NDTV news channel.

    The channel, however, claimed that a video footage, in fact, showed Togadia sayinging, "You put pressure on the government to enforce the Disturbed Areas Act the way we have in cities like Ahmedabad". 

    Disturbed Areas Act restricts sale of property in Gujarat's "communally sensitive" areas, a law that came into force after 2002 religious riots that claimed lives of more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. 

    The report also claimed that the VHP leader also threatened Muslims with violence and asked his followers to "go with stones, tyres and tomatoes" since there was nothing to fear

    The VHP was founded by a group of senior leaders from a hard-line Hindu organisation, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), in 1964, with the objective to 'Hinduise' the entire country. 

    RSS spokesperson, Ram Madhav, defended Togadia, saying the leader "has denied making such comments" that are "fabricated".

    India's Election Commission has, meanwhile, said it will probe the controversy. 

    The fresh controversy came barely a day after opposition BJP leader Giriraj Singh in his poll speech said that those opposed to the party's prime ministerial candidate Modi would have to shift base to Pakistan after the election results.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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