VHP calls Kandhamal shutdown over ban on Togadia

Bhubaneswar : The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has called for a 12-hour shutdown in Odisha's Kandhamal district Saturday to protest the ban on the entry of its top leader Pravin Togadia into the region, a leader said Friday.

"We have called for a total shutdown in the district. However, the emergency services will continue as usual," VHP leader Bhagaban Mohanty told IANS.

"The administration is maintaining a double standard. While it had allowed Christian missionaries to hold meetings in the region, it is restricting a Hindu leader which is most unfortunate," he said.

Togadia was scheduled to address a gathering of VHP supporters at Phulbani, the district headquarters town of Kandhamal, Feb 28. Authorities Thursday imposed a ban on his entry to the district after apprehension that it might disturb the peace in the area.

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.

Different Christian groups had moved the local and state administration seeking a ban on the proposed visit of Togadia, saying his fiery speeches might upset the fragile peace between communities.

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