Reported by Simanchal Pattanaik
Phulbani, Feb 24:
On the eve of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Chief Praveen Togadia’s visit to Odisha on February 28, members from the Christian Public Welfare Association and social activists on Tuesday approached the District Magistrate (DM) requesting him to invoke Section 144 during the VHP leader’s visit.
The VHP, on the other hand, has called the move undemocratic.
Social Activist Ramakant Baliyarsingh of Brahmanigaon via his lawyer Manas Ranjan Singh today presented his case in front of the Kandhamal DM arguing that Togadia’s visit and his fiery speeches might upset the fragile peace between communities and requesting the DM to ban his visit by invoking section-144.
The backward Kandhamal district witnessed Hindu-Christian riots in 2008. At least 38 people were killed and thousands had to flee their homes from both communities in the riots that that started following the murder of Hindu saint Laxmanananda Saraswati.
Togadia is scheduled to address a Hindu Convention of the VHP at the coronation field of Phulbani town on February 28.
Local VHP leaders condemned the move to disrupt his visit and argued that Kandhamal is peaceful and doesn’t have a tense situation. Attempting to block a public gathering under such condition is unconstitutional and undemocratic. There would be fire, should such a thing take place, they have warned.
“We are considering all possible actions,” said regional Joint Secretary of VHP Priya Nath Sharma.
“We are keeping an eye on the issue. I will speak as and when it is needed,” said Collector cum District Magistrate of Kandhamal Noonsavath Thirumala Nayak, while acknowledging the importance of the issue.