Patil says investigating officer to decide Togadia arrest

Home minister R R Patil said Friday the state did not delay action against Praveen Togadia, accused of making a hate speech, and that it was up to the investigating officer to decide whether the VHP leader should be arrested or not.

"Nanded police have found objectionable content in his speech and therefore, registered a case. However, the investigating officer will decide whether Togadia should be arrested or not," he said.

Maharashtra Police filed a case against Togadia Thursday under IPC section 153 A for promoting religious enmity.

In a speech at Bhokhar, a town bordering Andhra Pradesh in Nanded district, on January 22, Togadia allegedly recalled communal violence in Nelli, Bhagalpur and Gujarat.

His detractors claimed while MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi was jailed for the same offence, police took 16 days to file a case against Togadia and were still to arrest him.

Patil, however, denied delay.

"We sought legal opinion because we don't want to crush anybody's freedom of expression," he said.

Meanwhile, Togadia, who is in Allahabad, said the hate speech cases against him in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra were an attempt by "vote-greedy political people" to engage him in legal battles before elections in many states and at the Centre.

"There are concerted political efforts to fix me in malicious cases and, thereby, distract the nation from core issues of Hindus, including construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya," he said.

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