Jaipur, April 13: VHP leader Praveen Togadia was arrested tonight, but not before he accomplished what he had vowed to do.
Defying prohibitory orders and the Congress-run state government’s ban on distribution of trishuls, Togadia handed over tridents to nearly 600 Bajrang Dal activists in Ajmer in full view of a huge contingent of police personnel.
The trishul diksha (initiation) was carried out after Togadia led a procession of 3,000 Bajrang Dal activists to the venue, though a prohibitory order was in force.
The police moved to arrest him only after he left Ajmer and had travelled nearly 40 km on his way to Jaipur. Togadia was arrested under the Arms Act.
The Ashok Gehlot-led Rajasthan government, facing an year-end Assembly election and struggling to contain the spillover effect of Gujarat, had banned distribution, possession and carrying of tridents in the state except at religious places.
The government had said that the “trishuls” being distributed by the VHP were nothing but “knives with three blades”.
The police had raided the VHP’s office in Ajmer and seized over 650 tridents last night. But the administration was at a loss today when the Bajrang activists fished out one trident after another at the venue.
While leading the procession, Togadia, too, mocked the police by brandishing two tridents and daring them to arrest him.
Togadia, who had once threatened to replicate the Gujarat experiment in other “mini-labs” like Rajasthan, was briefly stopped by the police from entering Ajmer.
After a heated argument with the police, Togadia and 50 supporters walked towards the city but they were again stopped near Martin Bridge, 5 km from the venue of the diksha.
Having failed to dissuade Togadia from proceeding, the administration took him alone in a bullet-proof vehicle to the venue, where he performed the diksha.
“Rajasthan is the sole state in the country which has banned the religious symbol of Lord Shiva on the advice of the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi). We will make it a Waterloo for the Congress in this state,” Togadia told PTI after his arrest.
“It would be a jihad against the Gehlot government and Sonia Gandhi,” he said.