Hours after the dramatic post-midnight hearing by the Gujarat High Court, Hardik Patel has resurfaced. The Patel community leader surfaced under mysterious circumstances at a highway that passes from Dhrangadhra in Surendranagar district of Gujarat. He has claimed that he was abducted.
Hardik has been spearheading the Patel quota stir and is the leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti. The community is protesting to demand reservation under the OBC category.
After being ‘found’, Hardik claimed that he had been “abducted” by people with weapons.
“Some persons chased my car near Bayad (in Aravalli district)… then I was picked up by some persons.. after that I was made to sit in a car for the entire night…I was threatened to leave this agitation or I would be eliminated. The person threatened me saying that it is the first and last warning, and if I am ever seen addressing a public meeting in a village, I will be eliminated,” Hardik told reporters.
“I do not know who was he, whether a policeman or anyone else but he had a revolver with him,” Hardik added.
On Tuesday, Hardik organised a public meeting in Bayad Taluka of Aravali district allegedly without a prior permission.
After the public meet, the police tried to detain him but according to Gandhinagar Range IG Hasmukh Patel, he managed to run away.
“We learned that Hardik Patel is somewhere between Dhragadhra and Halvad towns of Surendranagar district. But, since we do not have his exact location, we could not locate him yet,” Patel said after reports of Hardik being found resurfaced.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat High Court in a post-midnight hearing had directed the state government to find Hardik Patel after his aide moved a Habeas Corpus petition alleging that Hardik was illegally detained by police.
In a rare move, a division bench of the Gujarat High Court, comprising of Justices MR Shah and KJ Thaker, heard the petition at 1.20 AM. Hardik’s aide Dinesh Patel sought the court’s intervention to direct authorities to produce Hardik.
The court issued a notice to the state government, Director General of Police, Range Inspector General and Arvali District Superintendent of Police directing them to file reply in 24 hours.
Public prosecutor Mitesh Amin claimed that Hardik was not in the custody of the police. But the court pulled up the state government and asked them to find Hardik, calling him “a citizen of the country”.
The police had earlier claimed that Hardik had evaded detention by absconding when policemen went to detain him. He was to be detained for organising a public meeting allegedly without a prior permission in Aravali district.
The hearing conducted at the residence of one of the two judges concluded at 2.40 AM.
The petitioner, Hardik’s aide, claimed that he was with Hardik when the police tried to detain the 22-year-old leader. He repeatedly alleged that Hardik was in police custody.
Advocate BM Mangukiya, who appeared for Patel, obtained permission from the acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel, and then moved the plea before the Registrar General for conducting a special hearing early on Wednesday morning.
(With inputs from PTI)