A day after Ahmedabad police denied the Patidars permission to hold the August 25 rally on the Sabarmati riverfront, the community leaders remained adamant on the venue of the agitation.
“Permission or no permission, the Patidars will gather at Vallabh Sadan adjoining the riverfront. And, the rally will move toward the district collector’s office at RTO circle, along side the riverfront,” said Varun Patel, in-charge of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti which is spearheading the agitation for OBC status and reservation benefits.
Ahmedabad police on Thursday had allowed leaders of the Patidar community to hold the rally at GMDC ground near Helmet Circle, which is 7 km from the riverfront. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has allotted the riverfront only for parking.
While police claimed Patidar representatives sought permission to organise a rally of three lakh people, the organisers expected the number surging to 25 lakh.
In a veiled threat to the government, the Patel leaders maintained that the rally would be peaceful, but “anything” could happen if the government used force against them.
“From our side, it is very clear that rally will be peaceful. But if the government use the force, the situation may go out of control and we do not rule out possibility of any sort of incident,” Varun said.
In view of the sensitive situation, Director General of Police P C Thakur has cancelled all leaves granted to policemen in Ahmedabad for the day. He has also instructed officers in other districts against sanctioning leave, except for “very pressing reasons”.
Considering the scale of the Patel rally, Health Minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel cautioned the organisers to be careful of “anti-national” elements.
“We have to be very vigilant when such a large number of people gather at one place. I want to advise organisers to be more careful,” he said.