RAJKOT: Vishwa Hindu Parishad's (VHP) president Pravin Togadia sent temperatures soaring in Bhavnagar on Saturday evening with a hate speech that targeted Muslims for buying properties in Hindu areas. At night, Togadia joined a group of VHP and Bajrang Dal members on a street protest outside a house purchased by a Muslim businessman near Meghani Circle. While saffron groups have been regularly organizing 'Ram Dhuns' and 'Ram Darbars' to thwart such deals, Togadia went a step further by asking the protesters to take complete control of the house and put a 'Bajrang Dal' board on it.
He gave the Muslim occupant 48 hours to vacate the house. "If he does not relent, go with stones, tyres and tomatoes to his office. There is nothing wrong in it. Killers of Rajiv Gandhi have not been hanged ... there is nothing to fear and the case will go on," Togadia told the charged-up gathering. "I have done it in the past and Muslims have lost both property and money," he said. He also said that this election is the best time to pressurize political parties to ensure safety of Hindus. "Don't be reluctant to pressurize Congress or BJP for the sake of Hindus' safety," he said. After the event was over, tension was palpable and police feared that the mob might attack the house. A team of policemen has been stationed outside the house to avert any trouble.
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Giriraj defiant on Pakistan remark despite FIR
The Jharkhand Police on Sunday registered an FIR against BJP's Bihar leader Giriraj Singh for his provocative statement that those opposing Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan even as his embarrassed party distanced itself from the remark. A defiant Giriraj, however, stood by his comments made in Deogarh in Jharkhand on Friday despite facing criticism from rival parties. Congress and JD(U) also moved the Election Commission (EC) seeking action against him. Deoghar SDM Jay Jyoti Samanta, who is also the deputy returning officer, said an FIR was registered against Giriraj under several IPC sections and the Representation of People's Act, 1951. Deoghar SP Rakesh Bansal said the FIR was filed at the Mohanpur police station on Samanta's directions. Former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari & BJP's Godda candidate Nishikant Dubey were also on the stage during the meeting at Mohanpur. The Bihar Preservation and Improvement of Animals Act was also invoked in the FIR for Giriraj's remark that the Centre gave subsidy to those who exported beef and taxed those who reared cows. A red-faced BJP disowned the controversial statement, with party president Rajnath Singh saying, "BJP believes in the politics of justice and humanity and taking everybody along." The party's Bihar leader Sushil Kumar Modi was far more forthright in frowning upon Giriraj's comment, tweeting, "BJP doesn't approve of irresponsible statement given by Giriraj Singh." BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the party had nothing to do with Giriraj's statement and added that Sushil Modi's tweet reflected the party view.
BJP's distancing itself from Giriraj, known for his over-the-top remarks, came as it faced fire from many quarters. Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal wondered if leaders like Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati would be sent to Pakistan. He said the EC should take note of Singh's comments and he should be sent to "jail". In a letter to the EC, AICC secretary KC Mittal claimed that Singh's statement "had been calculatedly made, not only to exploit religious and communal feelings during operation of model code of conduct but also to provoke public disorder". JD(U) secretary general KC Tyagi also sent a letter to the EC demanding that FIRs be registered against Singh. However, Giriraj, the BJP candidate from Nawada in Bihar, was unfazed by the leadership's displeasure and criticism from other parties. "I stand by my statement that those trying their best to stop Modi from coming to power have no place in India and should go to Pakistan. It's Pakistan's interests these Modi-baiters are trying to promote by opposing him in the polls," he told PTI.
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