Pravin Togadia defiant in face of restrictions in Assam, plans to arrive in Guwahati tomorrow despite police ban on his public rallies

Former Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) top leader Pravin Togadia will arrive in Guwahati on Wednesday amid a scare that the government might restrict his movements to prevent worsening of the law and order situation in the state, ahead of the final publication of the citizens' list at the end of this month.

Togadia told Firstpost (on phone) that he would reach Guwahati on 18 June to meet the functionaries of the fledgeling Rashtriya Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Antarashtriya Hindu Parishad (AHP) which he recently founded after a falling-out with the VHP.

The police have barred Togadia from attending any public meeting in the city for two months. Following this, the meeting which was earlier scheduled to be held at the ITA auditorium in Machkhowa has been shifted to the residence of Robin Bhuyan at Bhangagarh. Bhuyan is the president of the Assam unit of the AHP.

File image of Pravin Togadia. AFP

File image of Pravin Togadia. AFP

The meeting will be followed by the leader's visit to the Kamakhya temple and an interaction with media in the evening. Togadia said that if he were barred from moving out of the airport, he would adopt a 'wait and watch' policy.

"We have informed the police about our plan to hold the meeting at Bhangagarh and have registered our protest against their decision. He is not a terrorist and he has not been barred by other states in the country," said Deepjyoti Das, media convener of the Rashtriya Bajrang Dal.  He said that delegates from many districts in Assam have arrived in the city to participate in the meeting.

The government has not ruled out law and order problems after the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is published on 30 July. A series of meetings have been held between state and central security agencies and more than a hundred companies of paramilitary troops have already been deployed in sensitive districts.

Togadia is known for his fiery and provocative speeches which the government fears could fuel communal passions in the state.  He had been earlier banned from entering Guwahati in 2015 by the previous Congress government only a few days after his entry was barred in Bengaluru.

The former VHP leader had been highly critical of the current NDA regime's policies and failure to deliver on the promises it made during the last general elections. It was perhaps his open criticism of the BJP which triggered his clashes with other members of the VHP. It is expected that he would lash out against the BJP-led government in Assam, which is already drawing flak from different quarters for nonperformance and its silence on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.

During a visit to the state last year, Togadia had argued in favour of granting citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu migrants and expulsion of Muslims besides making a case for a complete ban on cow slaughter. However, he would have to extra careful with his remarks this time around on Hindu migrants since almost the entire Brahmaputra valley had erupted in protest against the proposed bill.

A senior activist of AHP who chose not to be named said "We have briefed our chief about the current situation in Assam and the need for keeping the interests of the indigenous communities above anything else. Our objective would also be to avoid the mistakes committed by the RSS."

When asked to comment on the bill, Togadia said that he would disclose his views during the interaction with the media.  He will be received by a group of Rashtriya Bajrang Dal functionaries at the airport, and then he will be brought to the city with a convoy of vehicles and motorbikes.

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Updated Date: Jul 17, 2018 19:45 PM

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