Following yet another round of meeting with a high-level ministerial panel of the Gujarat government, Patidar leaders Monday said they were negotiating for the release of jailed quota stir leaders, including Hardik Patel, and the issue of reservation benefits for the community would be taken up later. The fresh talks were held just a day after violence was witnessed in Mehsana following Jail Bharo Andolan by the Sardar Patel Group.
Speaking to the mediapersons after the meeting here, Health Minister Nitin Patel, who is head of the committee, said the government has already sent out letters to magistrates and government lawyers to withdraw certain cases against the Patidars “in public interest”. He was referring to the Gujarat government’s decision to withdraw 74 criminal cases filed against 382 Patidars involved in the quota stir.
The minister also said neither Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti convener Hardik Patel, nor Sardar Patel Group leader Lalji Patel in letters to the committe has raised the issue of OBC status for the Patidars — contrary to what the Samiti had been demanding since the launch of the agitation in July last year. “In Hardikbhai’s letter, it is stated that their community (Patidar) should not be included among the OBCs. He has demanded a commission for the Patidar community. Laljibhai has also made a parallel demand,” the Health Minister said, without explaining it further.
Two Patidarleaders from Surat, Mukesh Patel and Mahesh Savani, who attended the meeting said that the role of the committee was limited to the extent that the Patidar leaders were released from jail and the cases against them were withdrawn. “Rest of the issues like reservation and what kind of reservation will be deliberated by those jailed Patidar leaders after their release,” Savani said.