A metropolitan court in Ahmedabad on Tuesday dropped all charges against Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia and 38 others accused in a two-decade-old attempt to murder case, after the government lawyer said the state wanted to withdraw the case, The Indian Express reported.
The case goes back to May 1996, when Shankarsinh Vaghela, then Bharatiya Janata Party member, had revolted against then chief minister of Gujarat Keshubhai Patel, IANS reported. Kesbhubhai’s loyalists had attacked Vaghela’s aide Atmaram Patel, who was also a senior BJP leader.
Togadia and the others were accused of trying to strip Atmaram Patel by pulling off his dhoti at a BJP function where Atal Bihari Vajpayee had delivered a speech, The Times of India reported. Vaghela left the BJP soon after to launch his Rashtriya Janata Party. In the course of the case, Atmaram Patel passed away.
After the Gujarat government withdrew its case on Tuesday, Togadia thanked Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
“My friends Vijaybhai, Nitinbhai and Pradeepsinh have withdrawn an old political case. Thank You,” Togadia said in a text message to The Indian Express. He also asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to “break the ladder which helped him to rise”.
Togadia indicated that “mota bhai” – in an apparent reference to Modi – should “have a dialogue with old friends like us”. “He speaks with leaders of foreign countries, sometimes he should talk to those like us sitting within the country,” Togadia said, according to The Indian Express.
Earlier this month, the same court had issued non-bailable warrants against Togadia and the 38 others for not appearing before it in the case. Togadia, however, had alleged there was a conspiracy and claimed the police had never delivered any court summons to him.
A few days later, the VHP claimed Togadia went missing from his house after a police team went to arrest him in connection with the case. He was found unconscious hours later, after which he alleged that attempts were being made to silence him.