TIME India

Alleged Anti-Muslim Comments Stir Controversy in Midst of Indian Parliamentary Elections

Sam Panthaky—AFP/Getty Images Vishva Hindu Parishad president Pravin Togadia

A video clip appears to show Pravin Togadia, head of a right-wing Hindu organization, telling an audience that Muslims should be barred from buying property in Hindu areas. A lawyer for Togadia called reports of the incident "false"

A video purporting to show the head of a right-wing Hindu organization making anti-Muslim comments has sparked controversy in the midst of a highly contested national election.

The clip appears to show Pravin Togadia, head of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, telling an audience in the northwest state of Gujarat that Muslims should be blocked from buying property in Hindu areas.

The ruling Congress Party and other political parties quickly condemned Togadia, with the controversy coming more than halfway through the staggered parliamentary elections that began on April 7 and end on May 12. The Election Commission has directed local authorities to file a police report and sought a copy of the recording of the video before deciding on a course of action, the Times of India reports.

A lawyer for Togadia said in a legal notice sent to the media on Monday that “the report about a misinformed incident in Gujarat as appeared in an English newspaper … is false, malafide and mischievous.”

The Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the leading opposition party, echoed his denial, according to the Times of India.

“I talked to Togadiaji. He said he did not make such a statement,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told journalists on Monday.

The BJP, projected to win a narrow majority in this month’s elections behind prime-ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, is riding high amid concerns about a slowdown in the economy. Modi has gained support by promising to revive growth, but critics worry about his record. They point to Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 that left more than 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims, under his watch as chief minister. He continues to face questions about the riots, though Indian courts have never found him criminally culpable and have cleared him of any wrongdoing.

[Times of India]

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team