Reported by Simanchal Pattanaik/OST
Rourkela/Phulbani/Bhubaneswar, Feb 27:
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) international working president Praveen Togadia today launched a scathing attack on Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the denial of permission to him to attend a VHP function in Kandhamal tomorrow and imposition of section -144 on his visit to the district.
“I would have gone there to attend a free medical camp for the poor. If Naveen Patnaik does not want that, then he is an enemy of the poor and Hindus,” Togadia told media persons on the sidelines of a VHP event in the Steel City of Rourkela.
“I am not against the minorities. I would have spoken about the interests of my Hindu brothers and sisters. I, however, oppose illegal entry of Bangaladeshi Muslims into our country. I would have talked on these issues in Kandhamal. However, if Naveen Patnaik does not want the well-being of the people, let the masses decide. But I’ll continue to speak in favour of the Hindus and their interests,” said Togadia.
In Bhubaneswar, Law minister Arun Sahu justified the move to ban Togadia’s entry saying the administration cannot allow someone, who has a record of inflaming passions in the past, to disturb communal harmony in the district.
Togadia was scheduled to address a function at the coronation field of Phulbani town tomorrow as part of the celebrations of the Golden Jubilee Year of VHP.
The district administration yesterday denied him permission to enter Kandhamal and imposed section -144 in the district for seven days.
The administration, however, has given the VHP the go ahead for the conduct of the event without Togadia.
While the Christian Welfare Association has thanked and welcomed the district administration’s decision, many social activists and organizations, including some Christian organizations, have denounced the move and have termed it as violation of rights.
On its part, the VHP has called for a 12-hour Kandhamal bandh tomorrow in protest against the move. It has questioned the need for such a step at a time when the district was completely peaceful and there was no threat to public order.
“We have called for a total shutdown in the district. Emergency services will, however, be exempt from the bandh call. The administration is maintaining double standards. While it had allowed Christian missionaries to hold meetings in the region, it is restricting a Hindu leader which is most unfortunate, “said VHP leader Bhagaban Mohanty.
It may be noted that the ex-regular examination of students has been scheduled for tomorrow. The VHP also intends to co-operate with the ambulance, emergency health services along with the students going for examinations tomorrow.
The district administration, on the other hand, is leaving no stones unturned to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident tomorrow. While 22 platoons of armed forces have been deployed in the district, 12 of them have been positioned in the district headquarters town of Phulbani.
There is heavy police bandobast on the district’s borders with Boudh to prevent Togadia from entering Kandhamal. The VHP leader, it may be noted, had been arrested on the Kandhamal-Boudh border while trying to enter the communally sensitive district in 2010.Hi
While the logjam continued all through the day today, all eyes are on Kandhamal tomorrow.