The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sword slash for Gehlot deputy

Jaipur, April 29: First trishul; then fork; and now sword.

Soon after the Gehlot government banned the distribution of tridents, the BJP raised a ruckus saying the fork had four prongs, so it was more dangerous and should be banned as well. Now, a BJP leader has taken Rajasthan deputy chief minister Kamla to court for accepting a sword at a public function.

According to Milap Chand Mehta, three persons — Kamla, Jalore district collector P.C. Balai and Congress MLA Heera Lal Vishnoi — violated the Arms Act last week by accepting swords at a cattle fair in Sanchore. He filed a complaint in the court of Raniwara judicial magistrate pleading that police file an FIR against them under Section 4/25 of the Act, but his petition was rejected.

Today, he filed a review petition in the court of additional district and sessions judge J.K. Upadhyaya in Bhinmal in Jalore district, alleging his complaint was rejected on the basis of Kamla’s press statement that she had returned the sword.

Newspapers had reported Kamla — who has dropped her surname Beniwal and prefers to be called by her first name only — had not only received the sword but had also waved it in the air. When she noticed some elements in the crowds whispering about her action, she immediately returned the sword.

Petitioner Mehta contended that a court could not blindly base its order on a newspaper report without investigating it. Even if Kamla had returned the sword, she was not absolved under the Arms Act, he claimed.

The petition also claimed the lower court had not kept in mind the recent notification of the state government banning exhibition, possession and distribution of sharp bladed weapons.

Mehta asserted that VHP and Bajrang Dal activists were being arrested at random under the Arms Act for distributing four-inch tridents, but no action was being taken against distribution of swords, which were two-and-a-half feet in length and much sharper. The court today admitted the petition.

In her statement, Kamla rejected any comparison between the sword she accepted and the tridents distributed by the VHP. She said the weapon presented to her was merely a decorative piece and manufacturers of such articles had proper licences.

As the debate over the trishul and sword raged, news of more trident arrests came in. Yesterday, Atul Kaushal — son of Lok Sabha MP from Kota Raghuvir Singh Kaushal — was arrested in Kota for displaying a trident at a rally on April 25 to protest against VHP leader Praveen Togadia.

There are also reports of Rajasthan BJP president Vasundhara Raje having accepted bows and arrows from tribals in Dungarpur and Banswara districts during her Parivartan Yatra. Although presenting the weapons is a tribal tradition, Raje could well be the next target.

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