Rallying behind Patidars agitating in Gujarat for OBC status and reservation, members of the community settled in United States plan to stage a protest outside the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 25 morning when Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes there for the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.
A second protest is planned outside the SAP Center in San Jose, another Modi stop on the trip.
Alpesh Patel, coordinator of the Sardar Patel Group USA-Canada, told The Indian Express he had obtained permission from police in New York to stage a protest outside the UN headquarters.
He said he launched a Facebook page and, within 24 hours, received around 1,000 names, phones and addresses of Patels ready to join the protest. “Our aim is to get 5,000 people at the UN. We are not political people. We have a genuine grouse to stand up and be counted,” he said.
A millionaire businessman whose community group is building an Umiya village, named after the Patel kuldevi, in New Jersey, Alpesh Patel said: “We are fighting for our poor brethren back home. Our Patel parents are selling their homes to get college admission for sons and daughters. You must remember that only because of the reservation system in India, more than 10,000 Patel engineers and doctors are in America today.”
He claimed that an official called, on behalf of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, and asked him not to stage the protest. Other Patel leaders said Indian government intermediaries were telling community leaders in the United States that they could help arrange a meeting with Modi should they drop the protest plan.
Deepak Pandya, father of US astronaut Sunita Williams who hails from Jhulasan in Mehsana district, told The Indian Express: “It is correct to say that I support the demand of Patels of my village.”
Keval Patel, great grandnephew of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, too said he was backing the Patidar agitation in Gujarat and was awaiting the outcome of the community’s talks with the state government.
Keval said he had had to migrate to the US because he lost out to reserved category candidates while seeking admission in an engineering college.
“If Patels get reservation in education, then we will have no reason to oppose Modi in the USA. Let us wait what happens within the 10-day deadline.”
Dakshesh Patel, one of the leaders of Sardar Patel Group USA-Canada, said: “We will send a message across to Modi that you can’t violate human rights by using police force against Patels in Gujarat.”
Varun Patel, spokesman of the Sardar Patel Group, said he was questioned in Ahmedabad by an intelligence officer on their plans to oppose Modi.
“They wanted to know micro details of our groups in America. They seem to be worried about the street protests in America against the PM,” Varun Patel said.
Modi supporters, meanwhile, have organised an open debate on “reservation and quota in education and in Indian government” at the Royal Albert Palace in New Jersey. The pro-Modi, anti-protest group wants to explain to Patels that Modi is still their best bet.