Hours after ‘Save Reservation’ dharna staged by the OBC Ekta Manch in Ahmedabad on Sunday, to protest the Patidars’ demand for OBC quota, eight people were injured at Ramosana village in Mehsana district following clash between two groups of Patidars and Thakors (OBC) over a trivial reason of using foul language over cellphone. While two persons were reportedly critical, the village has been put under heavy police security.
With various castes out on streets for and against reservation after PAAS’ month-old agitation, the Anandiben Patel government appears to be unnerved by the towering size of the rally planned in Ahmedabad on August 25, throwing up possibilities of caste conflicts. Other upper castes, including Brahmins and Kshatriyas, across state too have joined the chorus demanding reservations.
Senior government officials from home department warn that any untoward incident in the rally would have serious repercussions in the days to come.
“The state government will take stern action against anyone who will try to disrupt peace,” said government spokesperson and Health Minister Nitin Patel. He also heads the seven-member ministerial committee appointed by Anandiben Patel to negotiate with various agitating communities. Three attempts of talks with PAAS, however, have failed so far.
On Sunday Anandiben too, in her appeal to citizens with reference to ongoing PAAS agitation sent message to wind up the agitation and come for talks. Strong intensity of politically and economically influential Patidars’ agitation, evident through massive rallies by PAAS across the states so far, has caused unease to other castes, both OBC and other upper castes.
It was the Thakor and Chuadharies, both belong to OBC, who have not shared cordial relations with Patidars, in north Gujarat, that turned out in large numbers in the Sunday rally in Ahmedabad under the banner of OBC Ekta Manch.
Incidentally, Mehsana, where on Sunday the Patidar-Thakor clash was reported, is also the cradle of Patidar agitation. The present top rung in the government and party, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah, Anandiben, Nitin and Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel, all hail from Mehsana district.
While at present 146 castes have been classified under 27% quota as OBC, the Thakors and Chaudharies in the rally sent message that they would strongly oppose any move by the government to grant OBC status to the Patidars.
“Patidars in Gujarat are so influential and prosperous that they do not need reservation to come up. We would not let go our rights as the OBC group is yet not make the progress and reservation benefits have not reached widely,” said Alpesh Thakor, convener of OBC Ekta Manch, adding, “Our stir can take any direction if our demand will not be met. Our community has been very agitated and the situation is quite volatile.”
Hardik Patel, convener of the PAAS, reply to Thakor’s statement indicates deep divide between the these two castes. “Of 146 castes in OBC, only a couple of them turned up for the OBC rally,” said Hardik Patel.