The Patidar women have taken up the cudgels to press for quota demand. At the Patidar Mahila Mahasammelan held at the upscale Modhera road in Mehsana on Sunday, women’s sound and fury were on full display. Geetaben, wife of Patidar leader Chirag Patel, said, “I am rajdrohi (rebel) Chirag’s wife and proud of this title as it was also given to Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. My husband was an RSS worker. How can he be a deshdrohi (rebel)? Those who are in jail will come out some day, but what about those who have died. If they don’t free our men, then we must become Ahalyabai and Rani Laxmibai. Today, Kadva, Leuvas and Mehsana Patels have united to become one. Every revolution in India has sprung from Gujarat. In the same way, a revolution in India will come from Patidars of Gujarat. ”
About one-and-a-half lakh people, mostly women, took part in the rally. Incidentally, a Surat court will be hearing the bail plea of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor, Hardik Patel, facing sedition charges, today. Amidst the cries of “Jai Sardar, Jai Patidar”, an audio tape of Hardik was also played at the venue. In the tape, Hardik called the alleged violence against Patidar women by the police “a shameful act”, terming the situation “mini emergency”. He also spoke of “lokshahi ki hatya” (death of democracy) after the BJP government allegedly jailed many Patidar youths, charging them with sedition (rajdroh).
“Our family is going through tough times in the absence of my father, who is in jail for four months, but I am proud of him as we believe it is a sacrifice for the Patel Samaj,” said Khushboo, daughter of jailed PAAS leader Ketan Patel.
The women relatives of PAAS youth leaders picked up the baton of the quota stir even as four of their leaders are still lodged in jail for the last four months.
Resembling Mahila Sashaktikaran (women empowerment) rallies held by the BJP in the past, the event saw many pro-quota Patel women leaders root out the power of ‘Patlanis’ or Patidar women to keep up the momentum of the agitation even as the Gujarat government is trying for a “truce”. At the centrestage at the rally were women relatives of 10 Patidar youths who died in the aftermath of various Patidar rallies held last year, along with the relatives of the four youth leaders – Hardik Patel, Ketan Patel, Nilesh Patel and Dinesh Bambhaniya.
The rally began with a prayer for the “martyrs” while many including, Hardik’s parents (Bharat and Ushaben Patel) and sister Monica, Ketan Patel’s wife and daughter Radhika and Khushboo, Shwetank Patel’s mother Prabhaben, Nishit Patel’s mother Bhagwathi Ben, sitting MLA from Dhari Nalin Kotadiya, SPG convenor Lalji Patel, Advocate Babubhai Mangukiya, among others, were present.
The event saw Patidar leaders criticise the state government’s move of having Hardik and his aides face charges of sedition, conspiracy to wage war against government and criminal conspiracy under Section 124 (A), 121(A) and 120 (b) filed against them by Ahmedabad crime branch.
Many PAAS convenors from various districts gave rousing speeches, threatening to dislodge the Anandiben Patel led BJP government in the upcoming 2017 state Assembly polls if reservation were not given to the Patels, while PAAS Morbi Convenor criticised the Patel leaders in the current Anandiben Patel-led Cabinet for not supporting the quota stir.