With eight FIRs, including two for sedition, against him, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti convener Hardik Patel is likely remain in police custody for a few weeks — at least till municipal corporation elections.
The Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), Ahmedabad, declared him arrested at 10:30 pm Friday as soon as a team of 40 policemen, who went to Surat take him in their custody, reached Ahmedabad. Most of FIRs have police as complainants, which is likely to make the cases stronger.
Hardik will be produced before the metropolitan magistrate within 24 hours of arrest and the DCB will seek his custody for further interrogation. According to police, once Hardik gets out of the DCB custody, he is mostly likely to be arrested by Mehsana district police in connection with four FIRs, which includes a case of robbery lodged by a TV news channel. Mehsana police had filed an application before the Surat district court for his custody, but later withdrew it as his custody was granted to Surat police and later the DCB, Ahmedabad.
“This is clear cut indication that the state government is in no mood to free him easily, at least till municipal corporation elections. This has given a strong message among the members of Other Backward Class (OBC) who are opposed to the Paitdar stir for quota. The agitation has subsided and the state government has indicated that it won’t tolerate any sort of violence,” a government source said. The municipal corporation elections are to be held on November 22, the State Election Commission announced Friday.
A police source said the manner in which Morbi Superintendent of Police Rajan Susra was shunted out following incidents of violence on Thursday, it proved that the government is firm to crush the agitation. “There were some reactions following Hardik’s arrest on October 18 by Rajkot police, which was anticipated. But, this too has subsided, even after he was arrested by Surat police in a sedition case. Not only this, his core members too have been booked and arrested in sedition case and no noticeable protest has happened,” the police officer said requesting anonymity.
Another source said that the government is of view that the arrests of Hardik and his core members have sent a strong message to the Patel community, who may turn against the government. However, the government’s move has “equally pleased the OBC and Scheduled Caste community,” the source said.
Even as Hardik was in custody of Surat police, a mob burnt down two buses of Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) on Thursday at 12.30 am. The incident took place at Prantij bus station in Sabarkantha district. The mob was suspected to be part of Patidar agitation, officials said.
According to divisional controller N K Patel, the mob came in the depot and put the two express buses on fire and went away. “Our watchmen had seen the mob coming and torching the buses. Because of this, GSRTC has suffered loss of Rs 25 lakh”, he said adding, a police complaint was lodged in this case.
In Surat, police arrested 12 more Patidar youths on Thursday for their alleged involvement in pelting stones on a police van in Kapodara area late Wednesday night. Police had also lobbed 15 tear gas shells to disperse the mob, who had burnt two bikes parked on the roadside.