The Patidars stayed away from a public event of Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on Thursday at Bahucharaji in Mehsana, one of the worst affected districts in the recent violence following a rally by the community in Ahmedabad.
This was Anandiben’s first visit to her home district following the widespread violence after the August 25 rally.
Even as Patidar MLAs from north Gujarat, many of whom were targeted by the mobs, flanked Anandiben on stage, the audience largely comprised members from Rabari, Chaudhari and other communities. It appeared that the Patidar or Patel community was sending a “strong message” ahead of the local body polls in Gujarat.
According to sources, the venue for the event was shifted from a open ground to Bahucharaji temple premises due to heightened security concerns in view of the Patidar agitation for OBC status and reservation benefits.
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Anandiben, who is already a Z plus protectee, remained under heavy security cover throughout the event for inauguration of infrastructure projects worth Rs 21 crore in the area.
Naren Patel, BJP MLA from Unjha, told The Indian Express, “When police are present here in such a big number, why should they (Patidars) come here? To get beaten up again?’’
Harshad Patel, a prominent Patidar community leader from Bahucharaji, however, said: “During the condolence meeting for those who died in the violence at Umiya Wadi in Bahucharaji, the community took a decision against attending this function. After what happened by the end of Ahmedabad rally, for our security concerns, we decided not to attend it.”
“There cannot be more than five Patidars in the crowd. They have held meetings in all 42 villages of Bahucharaji taluka. In unison, they decided not to come,” said Bahucharaji sarpanch Kanu Bharwad, pointing towards a thin crowd of barely 1,000 people.
The top BJP leadership, however, struggled to engage even this thin crowd.
Govt announces Rs 4 lakh relief
The Gujarat government has announced Rs 4 lakh ex-gratia to families of those killed in “police firing” during August 25 night violence. Eight persons, including a policemen, were killed in the violence. The government will also give Rs 2 lakh to those who have suffered permanent disability of over 60 percent and Rs 10,000 to each of other injured.