Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel told The Indian Express that the Patidar agitation and the resistance to it by some OBC groups was posing a grave threat to the law and order situation in the state.
“The law and order situation has been threatened. In the past, state saw caste conflicts out of similar situation. Gujarat has flourished and developed in last decade under the feeling of security. Conflicts should be avoided to continue our progress,’’ Patel said.
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While admitting that the Patidars were “hurt”, Patel — who has been the target of the Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS) after a violent police crackdown — insisted that neither the home department nor the police had ordered the August 25 lathicharge in Ahmedabad. “Somewhere the issue of admissions and jobs has been hurting them’’, said Patel, who represents Bahucharaji constituency.
“There are some problems the Patidars are facing due to the reservation system, but in the agitation it has been unnecessarily magnified. Like they say that Patidars with 90 per cent do not get admissions, which is not correct…even if there are more problems, the government is ready to provide education package as well as new institutions’’.
Patel was the first minister targeted by the mob when his residence was torched in Mehsana city on the night of August 25.
Last week, he was chased out of a public function by protesting Patidar women. On September 16, PAAS convenor Hardik Patel demanded his resignation within 10 days questioning his absence at the outfit’s first ever meeting with the Gujarat CM on September 14.
Patel, however, denied that the government or police officers had ordered any lathicharge at GMDC ground on August 25, the venue of PAAS’s mega rally in Ahmedabad. “There was no question of his (Hardik) arrest or detention. The authorities of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation had asked him to leave the ground as permission limit was over. The police had gone there only for the same’’.
“Neither the home department nor the police officers had issued order for the lathicharge. The event was over. So, there was no question of any orders,” he added.
The minister, a Kadva Patidar from Mehsana, said that the agitation has moved away from its core agenda of seeking OBC status. “It is now directed more towards police action. For the issue of OBC demand, they should come to the table and go through a proper channel. However, Hardik Patel has not come forward for talks. Even the agenda for the September 14 meeting, was set by them strictly around allegations of police atrocity and not the reservation’’.