Hardik Patel, the leader of Patidar Patel sub-community movement demanding reservation for their sub-community in Gujarat, has been detained by Gujarat Police in Surat. The detention came early on Saturday morning ahead of their ‘Ekta Yatra’. According to the state authorities, no permission was sought by the organisers to take out the rally. Hardik Patel was detained, along with 35 of his supporters, by the strong contingent of police at Varachha area in Surat, the venue for flagging off their rally.
“We detained Hardik Patel along with his 35 supporters from Mangadh chowk in Varachha area of the city ahead of their rally today,” Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana told the press.
“They were detained in the interest of law and order as they did not seek any permission from the state authorities to take out this rally,” said Surat Police Commissioner, adding Hardik Patel and his followers were taken to police headquarters after the detention.
On the other hand, the 22-year old firebrand leader, condemned the police action terming it a bid by the state government to “muzzle” their voice.
“The Gujarat government wants to muzzle our voice. They want to harass us. Gujarat government and the state police wants violence in the state. This act is against the spirit of democracy,” he said speaking to the press while taken in a police van amid large bandobast.
Soon after his detention, the Gujarat administration today banned mobile Internet services across the state.
“We have decided to ban mobile Internet service in the state to tackle the law and order situation and to curb the rumours across Gujarat for an indefinite period,” Director General of Police PC Thakur told the press.
Hardik Patel had till yesterday kept his plans of ‘Ekta Yatra’ under the wraps and it was known only on Saturday morning after Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), the group which has been leading agitation demanding reservation for their sub-community under the Other Backward Castes (OBC), announced that they will take out a rally from Mangadh chowk in Varachha area of the city.
Earlier, Patel was also denied permission to hold a ‘reverse Dandi March’, retracing iconic 1930 march by Mahatma Gandhi from Sabarmati aashram to the coastal village of Dandi.
Hardik Patel, the leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), has been in limelight for sometime, especially after the violence in Ahmedabad last month following his massive rally at the GDMC ground. 10 people were killed and several left injured in the violence which broke out on August 25 after the rallyists had clashed with the state police. Curfew was also imposed at several cities across Gujarat, including Ahmedabad and Surat, as the clashes took violent turn. There were allegations of police excess as well, which are still under the probe.
(With inputs from the PTI)