Odisha News Insight

Christians demand ban on Pravin Togadia’s Kandhamal Visit

Pravin TogadiaA Christian group Wednesday demanded a ban on the proposed visit of Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) chief Pravin Togadia to Odisha’s Kandhamal district later this month saying it might disturb the peace in the area. Indian Christian Voice President Abraham Mathai said he has written to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urging him to intervene.

Togadia is scheduled to address a gathering of VHP supporters at Phulbani, the district headquarters town of Kandhamal Feb 28. At least 38 people were killed and thousands had to flee their homes following widespread communal violence in the region in 2008 after the murder of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati.

“Since Togadia is known for instigating such violence, allowing him to take part and address a gathering in the region is reason enough for genuine concern for the Christian community to fear for their safety”, he said.

“I beseech you on behalf of the helpless and fearful Christian community who are a minority in Kandhamal, to intervene immediately and prevent this dubious and ostensible celebration from taking place at all in such a communally tense backyard” Mathai has stated in his letter, a copy of which is with IANS.

In a related development, a social activist has moved the local administration in Kandhamal seeking a ban on Togadia’s visit to the area.

Ramakant Baliyarsingh, a Christian resident of Brahmanigaon in the region, urged the district magistrate Tuesday to invoke prohibitory orders at the proposed meeting venue as Togadia’s fiery speeches might upset the fragile peace between communities. Objecting to the move, local VHP leader Priyanath Sharma said the attempt to block a public gathering is undemocratic and unconstitutional. (IANS)

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