Upleta and Dhoraji towns of Rajkot remained shut on Friday to mourn death of a youth who had allegedly committed suicide in a guest house “in support” of the ongoing Patidar quota stir on Thursday.
Markets remained partially shut in Dhoraji, the town where Prakash Shaani (36), a Patidar youth had allegedly ended his life by consuming poison the previous day. Shaani, a resident of Moti Paneli village in neighbouring Upleta taluak, had checked in a guest house in Dhoraji in the morning and allegedly committed suicide by consuming pesticide. He was found dead in his guest house room at 5:30 pm.
Upleta town also observed a bandh while its major villages like Bhayavadar and Moti Paneli remained shut as well.
While booking the room in Dhoraji, the youth had told the guesthouse management that he was going to Junagadh to take part in the annual Shivratri fair and that he wanted rest for a while before resuming his journey. He had asked the guest house staff to wake him up after 4:30 pm.
“We recovered a four-page suicide not from his room. His brother has confirmed that the handwriting in the note is that of Shaani’s,” Dhoraji police inspector JK Zala said on Friday.
In the suicide note, the youth lamented that Patidars had to launch a stir to seek quota even though “they were the ones who form government” in the state. In the note addressed to Saurashtra PAAS convenor Lalit Vasoya, the youth writes: “With salutation to India, I hereby sacrifice one more life to the government. I hope the government will become wiser after this. I want to convey to this government that give quota at the earliest or many more lives will be laid down. I take this step so that government takes some note. But it seems the government is in slumber.”
The suicide note also complains to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel saying Patidars, who are largely farmers, are reeling under debt following four poor monsoons and they have not got crop insurance payment.
This is second alleged suicide by a Patidar youth in Rajkot district support of their community’s agitation demanding an other backward class (OBC) status and resultant reservation benefits in government jobs and in admission to institutes of higher education. Umesh Bhalal had allegedly hanged himself to death in Vavdi village near Rajkot city last year.
Vasoya, who is a distant relative of Shaani, said the youth was active in the stir. “Panel is the epicentre of quota stir in that part of Saurashtra and Prakash was active in the stir locally. He comes from a better-off family and he was not going through any financial crisis. But his death is very sad. Such acts by our youths cannot be justified because they leave their families in the lurch,” said Vasoya told The Indian Express.
Incidentally, Paneli is near Sidasar, the village in Jamnagar district from where Vasoya and other PAAS leaders had embarked on their 33-day long Patidar Ekta Yatra last week. The yatra is aimed at mobilising the community for quota agitation.
Shaani was cremated in his native village later on Friday with thousands of Patidars joining his funeral.