The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trident jibe at Gehlot

Jaipur, April 22: VHP leader Praveen Togadia today asked Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot to suggest an alternative design for the trishul.

Released on bail from the Ajmer central jail around noon, Togadia referred to the state government’s assertion that the tridents being distributed by the VHP were weapons (three-bladed knives) and said the chief minister should suggest its aakar prakar (size, shape and design).

“We will accept the size, shape and design of the trishul suggested by the Gehlot government for our diksha (initiation) ceremonies,” he declared, in an interaction with the media before he left for Gujarat.

Announcing that the trishul diksha would continue in Rajasthan because it was a democratic and constitutional right of the people, he pointed out that the trident was not named in the state government’s notification banning possession, display and distribution of multi-bladed weapons.

Togadia said the Gehlot government had hurt Hindu sentiments by branding the trishul a weapon and would have to pay in the Assembly elections later this year.

District and sessions judge Hari Singh Poonia had granted the VHP leader conditional bail on furnishing two sureties of Rs 20,000 each and a personal bond of Rs 40,000. The legal formalities could not be completed yesterday as the court rose for the day when the bail was granted. Togadia was released today after the court order reached the jail authorities.

State BJP chief Vasundhara Raje, VHP vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore, intellectual chief of the RSS Hasti Mal, wife Rashmika, daughter Ami and other family members were there to receive Togadia as he stepped out of prison. A large crowd of Sangh parivar activists, many of them in T-shirts with tridents printed on them, gave him a rousing welcome.

In a brief address, Togadia announced his intention to continue the Hindutva agitation throughout the country by “constitutional means”. He promised to come to Rajasthan whenever called by the VHP-BJP.

The VHP leader said he would attend each hearing in the Ajmer court and during these visits, he would participate in organisational programmes.

Vasundhara Raje said Section 121-A of the Indian Penal Code, one of the clauses under which Togadia was booked, was a draconian law used against Subhas Chandra Bose and Veer Savarkar by the British.

Three VHP office-bearers being held in judicial custody with Togadia were also granted bail today. Togadia was arrested on April 13 outside Ajmer for violating a ban on distribution of trishuls.

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