A court here on Tuesday exonerated VHP leader Pravin Togadia and 38 others in an attempt to murder case, related to a 1996 incident, following the Gujarat government’s request to withdraw it.

The controversial case pertains to a Bharatiya Janata Party event at Sardar Patel Stadium here on May 20, 1996.

After then BJP member Shankarsinh Vaghela revolted against then Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, Kesbhubhai loyalists attacked Atmaram Patel, then senior BJP leader, and those believed to be loyal to Vaghela.

Atmaram Patel had to flee for his life, almost half-naked, as attackers stripped him of his dhoti.

This incident, which reflected the internal rebellion of the BJP out in the public, eventually led Vaghela to break away from the BJP to launch his own Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP).

Earlier this month, in the same case the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court had issued non-bailable warrants against Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Togadia and 38 others, including sitting BJP MLA from Daskroi (Ahmedabad) Babu Jamnadas Patel, for not appearing before it.

Dubbing the entire incident a conspiracy, Togadia had cried foul and said that the police never delivered him summons despite him having Z+ security apparatus.

Togadia had then gone missing for ten hours in another case creating an embarrassment for the ruling BJP government a fortnight ago. He was later found in a hospital, from where he again hit out at BJP government, accusing it of plotting an “encounter” on him.

As the court convened for hearing in the case on Tuesday, the government lawyer told the magistrate that the state government was not in the favour of fighting the case.

The magistrate acceded to the request for withdrawal of case and acquitted all the 39 accused.