Seven people were reportedly killed in Gujarat after it witnessed violence on Tuesday night following clashes between the state police and members of Patel community, who had held a massive rally earlier in the day at Ahmedabad. More than lakhs had gathered at the GMDC grounds in Ahmedabad demanding the state government to list their Patidar Patel sub-community among the OBC for availing reservation.
The violence which began post the detention of community leader Hardik Patel spread fast into several cities across the state with Ahmedabad, Surat, Mehsana and Rajkot been hit the most. Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel has now appealed for calm.
“My sincere appeal to the people of Gujarat to maintain peace and not to indulge in activities disrupting the law and order across the state,” the Chief Minister said in her message.
According to the authorities, scores of rallyists allegedly resorted to arson, stone-pelting and vandalism after their 22-year-old leader Hardik Patel was detained as he began his hunger strike. At the same time, a large contingent of police stormed the GMDC ground, the rally venue, to disperse the crowd supporting Patel and three others who sat on a hunger strike after their massive rally. In the lathi-charge that ensued post Patel’s detention, hundreds were left injured including the media persons, who also suffered the damages of their equipment as well.
As the news of the detention of Hardik Patel spread fast and thick, violence broke out first in the city of Ahmedabad and later broadened to other cities like Surat, Mehsana, Rajkot and some interior areas of the state. Though Patel was released soon after, the government imposed curfew in three towns of north Gujarat and some areas of Surat.
The situation got edgy in Ahmedabad, as city buses and police posts were set on fire, while stone-pelting was reported from various parts of Gujarat. Reportedly, attempts were also made to set on fire residence of Gujarat Minister of State of Home Rajni Patel. The state police resorted to lathi-charge and teargas lobbing to control the situation.
Whereas in Rajkot, angry mob reportedly ransacked two offices of Union Minister of State for Agriculture and local MP Mohan Kundariya, the city police control room officials said.
Apart from that, mob have either torched or completely ransacked almost all the BRTS bus stops in the city during late night violence, the state police claimed adding that a large number of people have blocked highways connecting nearby towns and districts.
The state government has now ordered an inquiry to find out what led to the spread of violence on such a scale. In her public message, CM Anandiben Patel expressed regret over the entire incident and assured that “her government will set up an inquiry” to find out the truth.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the central figure in Patidar Patel community protest, called for a state-wide bandh on Wednesday to intensify the agitation. However, he also urged his community members to maintain peace.
“I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm. I give a call for Gujarat bandh tomorrow… This decision has been taken by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti considering widespread violence in the state,” Hardik Patel said hours after released from the detention.
The central government too is monitoring the entire situation closely.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel assuring her all possible help from the Centre to tackle the situation. About 5,000 paramilitary personnel has already been rushed to Gujarat.
(With inputs from the PTI)