Nine people, including a police constable, were reportedly killed in Gujarat violence which sparked off soon after the massive rally held by the Patel sub-community Tuesday demanding reservation. As per the latest reports, the violence has been contained to an extent, largely due to a huge army presence in the state. Flag marches were held by the Army and Central Armed Police Forces in Ahmedabad and other cities amid incidents of sporadic violence in some parts of the state.
Large parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Mehasana, Patan, Palanpur, Unjha, Visnagar and Jamnagar cities remain under curfew.
“Five companies of Army were called in Ahmedabad city to control law and order situation as the violence escalated,” Ahmedabad District Collector Rajkumar Beniwal told the news agency while sharing the latest details of the violence.
Apart from Ahmedabad, two companies of Army were deployed in Surat and another two in Mehasana town. The Centre had also sent more than 5,000 paramilitary personnel after the government of Gujarat had made a request.
The clashes which broke out soon after the detention of community leader 22-year old Hardik Patel Tuesday night, swelled up even further after the protestors clashed with the state police throughout Wednesday. The agitating Patel sub-community had called for a bandh on Wednesday even as the authorities had imposed curfew.
Responding to bandh, the community members spread out in several cities clashing with the state police force. As the violence kept on spreading, Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Anandiben Patel appealed for calm and peace.
“I appeal to all brothers and sisters of Gujarat that they should not resort to violence. The only Mantra must be Shanti,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised message speaking in Gujarati.
However, even that couldn’t prevent the large scale arson and vandalism. Multiple instance of stone-pelting was reported across the state along with agitators setting government property and vehicles on fire.
As the clashes between the state police and protestors intensified, six people were killed in firing by police and paramilitary forces, while two others died following violence which started Tuesday night. Four deaths were reported in Ahmedabad, three in Gadh village of Banaskantha district and one in Mehasana town.
Meanwhile, the agitating Patel sub-community remains firm on their agitation. Even though, their leader Hardik Patel appealed the community members to stay away from violence, the 22-year-old demanded Rs. 30 lakh compensation for those killed in the violence since Tuesday night. Hardik Patel, the convener of the agitating group Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti also blamed police for the violence and said the agitation will intensify in the coming days.
Patel has also reportedly asked his community members to stop the vegetable and milk supplies to the town and cities across Gujarat.
While schools, colleges, shops, banks remained closed in most places, public transport and rail traffic was also affected. Police said agitators uprooted railway tracks in at least eight places in the state. At least 12 trains, including Ahmedabad-Delhi Rajdhani Express, were cancelled and 19 trains were diverted inside Gujarat, Western Railway PRO Pradip Sharma said. Another five trains were diverted out of the state.
A total of 133 companies of State Reserve Police as well as central paramilitary forces including CRPF and BSF had been deployed across the state, Director General, Gujarat Police PC Thakur said.
(With inputs from the PTI)