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Togadia booked for hate speech

Mumbai, Feb. 7: After dithering for days, Maharashtra police booked Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia today for a hate speech he made against a minority community on January 22.

The decision was taken by the state’s home department this afternoon following a prod from the Union home ministry in the morning.

Earlier, the superintendent of police, Nanded, in whose jurisdiction Togadia had made the offensive speech, had brushed aside the cry for action saying “police was present at the site of the speech — there was nothing communal in it”.

In the speech, Togadia had allegedly attacked MIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi and members of a community.

Sandeep Triyambak Munde, an inspector in Bhokar, 50km from Nanded, said yesterday that the police had issued permission for the meeting held at the Zilla Parishad ground. “There was no disturbance of peace in Bhokar,” he said.

As home minister R.R. Patil, of the NCP, had kept pondering over action and seeking legal advice in the matter over the past couple of days, the state’s minority affairs minister Naseem Khan, of the Congress, had stepped forward yesterday with a clear demand for action against Togadia.

“I have spoken to state home minister R.R. Patil today. He has ordered an inquiry into Togadia’s remarks. I have requested the state government to register a case against Togadia. If Owaisi is behind bars for his hate speech, why not Togadia?” Khan had said this morning, hours before the action.