NATIONAL

Rajasthan bandh evokes poor response

JAIPUR APRIL 15. The Vishwa Hindu Parisahd-sponsored Rajasthan bandh, in protest against the arrest of its general secretary, Praveen Togadia, today evoked a poor response across the State. The BJP extended support to the bandh and its workers joined the VHP activists in organising protests.

The State Government had promulgated prohibitory orders in 15 districts, including Jaipur, as a precautionary measure. Except some minor skirmishes between the VHP, BJP workers and the police, there were no reports of any untoward incident from any part of the State, according to the police.

The police had made large-scale preventive arrests last night and detained over 150 suspected youths, while about 20 persons were arrested today. A large number of BJP leaders and VHP activists were detained and later released when they tried to gather in the markets apparently in an attempt to enforce the bandh.

A criminal case was registered against the BJP MLA and former Minister, Madan Dilawar, and two others in Baran when they took out a procession and flaunted ``trishuls''. The BJP leaders, Girdharilal Bhargava and Kalicharan Saraf, and the VHP State unit president, Jagannath Gupta, were among those who were detained for violating the prohibitory orders and were released later.

While the impact of the bandh was significant in Ajmer — where Mr. Togadia had addressed a `dharma sabha' and distributed `trishuls' on Sunday night — normal life was largely unaffected. The Central and State Government offices and educational institutions were closed for Mahavir Jayanthi today.

The VHP and BJP activists were seen forcing shopkeepers to down shutters in Ajmer, while the markets were open in eastern Rajasthan. The bandh call evoked a mixed response in the Hadoti region, Jodhpur and Udaipur divisions.

In Jaipur, shops were closed for some time in the morning, while the markets were open.

Security personnel were deployed at all sensitive places. Police said the law and order situation across the State was under control. However, the VHP claimed that the bandh was a `success'.

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