Twelve people, including seven women, were detained on Thursday following protest at Shala Praveshotsav — attended by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel — in Viramgam, the home town of incarcerated Patidar stir leader Hardik Patel, even as police kept his parents confined to their house till event was over.
The function was held at Viramgam Taluka Primary School in the morning. The protest was reported when the chief minister began to deliver her speech on the occasion. Some women, sitting in the front row, suddenly stood up and started blowing whistles and shouting slogans like “Hardik ne chhodo, Hardik ne chhodo (Release Hardik, release Hardik)” and “Jai Sardar, Jai Patidar”.
Following the incident, Viramgam town police immediately detained 12 people under provisions of the Bombay Police Act.
During the commotion, Anandiben stopped her speech, but stood firm on the stage. One of the organisers announced that nobody among the audience be deterred by this and requested all to keep calm.
Within five minutes, the chief minister resumed her speech in which she also referred to the protest and said that the protesters were becoming “handles” of some other forces. “I have to say this with grief that these people are becoming handles (of some other forces)… And by doing so, they are ruining the future of youths,” she said, adding that it was an educational event and such protests should not have any place in it.
Before this, police said acting on inputs that the Patidars could stage a protest at the chief minister’s event, they kept Hardik’s parents Bharat Patel and Ushaben, sister Monika, another close relative and a friend in preventive detention in the morning.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Bharat, however, said, “We were kept under detention since Wednesday night. Four male constables and two women constables were deployed at our residence since last evening. And in the morning, they did not allow us even to buy milk or vegetables. We never wanted to go for protest.”
Sub-inspector V B Jadeja said, “We had got some inputs about the possible protest by the Patidars. And, therefore, we had prepared a list of Hardik’s close relatives and friends to be kept under detention till the function got over. They were under detention at their homes from 6 am till the function got over. Some policemen were deployed to keep shadow watch on them since last night.”
Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Viramgam Dr Tejashree Patel, who also runs a hospital, alleged that she too was kept under detention from 8 am to 1 pm at her hospital Thursday. “Police were stopping local shopkeepers from opening their shops. And so, following an argument with police, they had come to me at my hospital with a request to intervene. When I discussed the issue with police, they asked me also to stay inside the hospital. I did not come out of the hospital from 8 am to 1 pm,” the Congress MLA said.
Refuting Tejashree Patel’s allegations, Jadeja said, “We never detained Tejashreeben. In fact, she was one of the invitees to the programme attended by the chief minister. How can we detain her? Also, since CM’s is a VIP movement, we had to stop some traffic and local movement on the road, temporarily.”