The Surat Crime Branch on Tuesday arrested two supporters of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), founded by now working president of Gujarat Congress, Hardik Patel, for allegedly throwing eggs and stones at the stage where JV Kakadiya, BJP candidate from Dhari seat in Amreli, was addressing a public meeting in Surat on Sunday.
Kakadiya is a former Congress MLA who had resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in June to join the BJP and is one of the five former Congress MLAs contesting on a BJP ticket from the eight seats where by-elections are scheduled on November 3.
Kakadiya was addressing a gathering at Anand farm at Yogi Chowk in Varachha area of Surat, which has a sizeable population of migrants from Amreli working in diamond and textile industries, when two youths allegedly threw eggs and stones on the stage, forcing him to stop the speech. Some of the BJP workers found two youths speeding on a bike and noted down the vehicle number.
Bhavesh Kakadiya, a BJP worker present at the meeting, lodged complaint against unknown persons with Sarthana police station. An offence was registered under Indian Penal Code sections 336 (endangering life or personal safety of others), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy to commit an offence), 114 and GP Act 112.
Acting on the complaint, Surat Crime Branch sleuths on Tuesday arrested Gaurang Kakadia, a resident of Ganesh Apartment, Yogi Chowk, and Piyush Virani, a resident of Ramnagar Society, Hirabag, who were handed over to Sarthana police station.
Assistant Commissioner of police A Division, CK Patel, said, “We have taken the custody of both the accused from the Crime Branch for their alleged involvement in pelting stones and eggs on the stage at a BJP event. We will interrogate them and investigate further.”
In the 2017 elections, Dhari, Amreli, Lathi and Savarkundla assembly constituencies in Amreli were won by the Congress, while in Surat the four constituencies of Varachha, Kamrej, Karanj and Katargam, where migrants from Amreli and Bhavnagar — mostly Patidars — stay, went to the BJP.
PAAS is active in Varachha and Katargam areas. Ahead of the assembly elections in 2017 and parliamentary elections in 2019, incidents of PAAS members disrupting BJP meetings were reported. They allegedly pelted stones on the office of BJP candidate of Varachha seat, Kishor Kanani, and also election office of Praveen Ghoghari in Karanj. The BJP leaders while taking out campaign rally, was shown blag flag and an egg throwing incident was reported in Varachha area.
Surat PAAS co-convenor Dharmik Malaviya said, “We protested at the public meeting of JV Kakadiya as on one hand the government is prohibiting social and religious programmes, while on the other, election-related public meetings are organised where no Covid guidelines are followed. Both the arrested ones are members of PAAS Surat team.”
Kakadiya said, “I don’t know who is involved in it. I came to know that police have arrested two persons and investigations would reveal their motive… I organised a meeting at Anand farm as there are lot of voters there hailing from Dhari constituency. I appealed them to come down to Dhari during and caste vote for BJP in the bypoll.”
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