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Togadia gears up for fight

Ajmer, April 19: Praveen Togadia appears to be in no hurry to press his bail plea as he is more keen on exposing the state government’s “mala fide” intent.

According to his lawyer, Onkar Singh Lakhawat, the state has tried to implicate the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader by hiding the facts of the case.

The lawyer’s argument may help Togadia challenge his arrest under Section 121A of the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy to wage war against the government or overawe it by criminal force.

Lakhawat took the first step today when the bail plea of Togadia, in judicial custody since April 14, came up in the district and sessions court.

In the absence of district and sessions judge Hari Singh Poonia, additional district judge Devendra Kachhawa adjourned the case till Monday after Lakhawat demanded the audio cassettes of Togadia’s April 13 speech and its transcripts, on the basis of which charges under Section 121A were brought against him.

On April 13, Togadia had defied prohibitory orders and a government ban on distribution of tridents to give away trishuls to Bajrang Dal and VHP workers at a dharma sabha in the state.

Lakhawat argued in court today that as the police had seized the VHP’s copies of the audiocassettes and transcripts, he needed other copies to challenge the prosecution’s version of the case.

He alleged that the prosecution was quoting excerpts from the speech out of context.

Public prosecutor Zafar Ahmed challenged the legality of Lakhawat’s demand for the cassettes as these formed a part of the evidence the police had collected.

The court then adjourned the hearing to Monday, when both sides would argue the right of the defence to get the copies. It ruled that, in anticipation of a ruling favourable to the defence, the prosecution should come prepared with copies of the audiocassettes on Monday.

Lakhawat had yesterday accused the police of booking Togadia under IPC Section 121 for waging war against the state and later dropping the charge. He said additional chief judicial magistrate Indu Pareek had noted the fact while hearing the bail pleas of three other VHP leaders of Ajmer who, too, are in judicial custody on similar charges.

Inspector-general of police (law and order) A.K. Jain had denied the claim, saying charges of “sedition” were not brought against Togadia at any stage, as reported in the media on the basis of a briefing by Lakhawat.

He emphasised the IPC has a separate section on sedition — Section 124A.

Lakhawat, also the state BJP vice-president, said he hoped the government’s “manipulation and lies” would be exposed in court.

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