Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani was accorded two armed police personnel for his protection on Sunday, which he said was a government ploy to keep a track of his activities. However, Gujarat police said the deployment was done considering the present political dynamics of the state and the ‘threat level’ against Mevani.
Addressing a conclave – Young Thinkers’ Meet – at Pritamnagar Akhado in Ellisbridge area on Sunday, Mevani said he had got police protection without even asking for it. “Today, I have got a commando with a machine gun, though I did not ask for it. When I asked (the policeman) if it was for surveillance, he said yes sir,” Mevani said, adding, “This speaks a lot of the current situation (in the state).”
Mevani also lashed out at the Vijay Rupani-led state government and said he was ready to reach an “ideological comprise” to defeat the “daitya BJP (devil – BJP)”. The Dalit leader also said he did not mind joining hands with Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel or Alpesh Thakor (OBC leader who recently joined Congress) to defeat the BJP despite differences with their communities.
Speaking to reporters, Mevani said he had never sought any protection and yet was provided proactively, suggesting that it was done to keep a track of his movement. He said other youth leaders like Hardik might also be given such protection.
While Hardik could not be reached, his close aide and spokesperson of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) Dinesh Bambhaniya said so far no police officers were deployed. “But on Saturday night, I got a call from a police official who inquired about me, Hardik and Alpesh Kathiriya (PAAS convener from Surat). The officer asked about our current residences and places where we spend majority of our time. He said it was for providing police protection,” Bambhaniya said.
When asked if there was any specific threat perception with regard to Mevani, Patel and other youth leaders, Ahmedabad police commissioner A K Singh said, “As such there are no specific (inputs), but dynamics of (current) politics may make them a subject matter of controversy and there is a possibility…We have the responsibility to provide protection to whoever we think could become a target…We have made the arrangements based on general possibility.”
Singh said full deployment was yet to be made but police personnel have been kept ready for protection of anybody who is vulnerable to violence.