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Posted at: Aug 26, 2015, 11:01 AM; last updated: Aug 26, 2015, 11:01 AM (IST)

Gujarat tense as Patels’ rally for reservation turns violent

Quota fire rages again

  • Hardik Patel, 22-year-old convener of the Patidar Anamat (Reservation) Andolan Samiti, addressed a massive rally at GMDC grounds in western Ahmedabad during the day
  • Demanding quota for Patels in jobs and educational institutions, Hardik later launched an indefinite fast at the rally venue along with his supporters
  • In the evening, the police took Hardik and some of his supporters in custody after which Patels took to streets and indulged in violence
  • The police later released Hardik and his supporters
Gujarat tense as Patels’ rally for reservation turns violent
Rapid Action Force personnel and supporters of the 'Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti' clash during the 'Kranti Rally' in Ahmedabad. AFP

Manas Dasgupta

Ahmedabad, August 25

Violence broke out in different parts of Ahmedabad and other districts of Gujarat today after the police, in a late evening swoop, took “Patidar” (Patel) leader Hardik Patel and his supporters in custody. They, however, were later released by the police.

Patidars took to streets and pelted buses and public property with stones in various parts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and some other parts of the state. Reports of pitched battles being fought between the police and protesters started pouring in as soon as the news about the detention of 22-year-old convener of the Patidar Anamat (Reservation) Andolan Samiti spread. The samiti organised a massive rally earlier in the day.

Houses of some “Patel” ministers in their respective constituencies were also allegedly attacked by mobs. Protesters tried to torch the house of Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel in Mehsana, the police said, adding that the fire did not cause much damage.

Hardik was arrested after he launched an indefinite fast at the venue of the rally, the sprawling GMDC grounds in the posh western Ahmedabad, insisting that the agitation would continue till Chief Minister Anandiben Patel personally come to the venue to accept their memorandum. 

Speaking at a mega rally of the community earlier in the day, Hardik warned the state government that "lotus" (the BJP symbol) will not bloom in 2017 Assembly elections if their demand of inclusion in the OBC quota was not met.

The government had earlier decided to ignore the demand and the 48-hour ultimatum served on the Chief Minister and to adopt a wait-and-watch policy till tomorrow before taking any decision on the issue.

In the evening, the police, who had been so far requesting Hardik to call off his fast and vacate the venue as the permission for the rally was up to 5 pm only, lost patience and put the samiti convener and his supporters hanging around the venue under arrest.

The police took away Hardik and his supporters after lathi-charging his over 2,000 supporters. Mediapersons were also injured in the police action. With rumours doing the rounds that Hardik and other Patel leaders had been mercilessly beaten up in police custody, thousands of Patidars took to streets and indulged in violence. The police were forced to request television channels to show that Hardik was “safe” in police custody in a bid to assuage frayed tempers of Patidars. Hardik has emerged as a powerful face of a massive campaign of the affluent and influential Patels or Patidars, who are demanding reservation in government jobs and colleges. 

(with PTI inputs)


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