Resuming their agitation for reservation, members of the Patidar community will court arrest en masse across the state on Sunday as part of the second round of the stir.
Agitators under the banner of Sardar Patel Group (SPG), with the support of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), will gather in Mehsana to form a human chain. They will then move towards the Mehsana sub-jail and court arrest, a senior SPG member said, claiming that around 50,000-1 lakh agitators from across Gujarat were expected to reach Mehsana. Mehsana district administration, however, issued notice to the campaign organisers terming it as illegal.
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On Saturday, the Mehsana district authorities refused to grant permission to Patidar leaders, led by SGP, for the “jail bharo andolan” for the release of jailed leaders and the withdrawal of cases against them.
The authorities have denied them permission on various grounds, terming the proposed event “anti-national, illegal and anti-social”.
Mehsana Collector Lochan Sehra said the district administration had served notice against the stir terming it as “illegal”. “The organisers had intimated the mamlatdar (government official) that they are going to hold ‘jail bharo andolan’. The mamlatdar has served them notice stating that they can’t hold the stir as it is illegal. They have also been told that they will be held responsible for any law and order problem,” Sehra said.
Talks with the Gujarat government over the 27-point demands on April 11 failed and hence, SPG has decided to resume the stir, the leader said. SPG convener Lalji Patel said the planned “jail bharo” agitation was being organised as their one-month ultimatum to the government to concede to the demands expired with “no favourable result”.
“We had given the government one-month ultimatum to meet our demands. But during this period, the government only talked and did nothing. This has forced us to go ahead with our planned agitation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel, presently in judicial custody, said he will compromise with the state government on the issue of reservation only if it is “in favour of their community”.
“We will surely compromise (on the reservation issue) if it is in favour of our community,” Patel told reporters when he was being produced before Surat district court on Saturday. The court, hearing his application to shift him out of Surat Jail, fixed further hearing on the plea on April 28.
Hardik handed over a letter to his lawyer Y B Wala and sent message to Patidars to carry out Jail bharo andolan peacefully and non-violently.
In the letter written in Gujarati, Hardik says, “We are not against BJP, but if you go against Patidar, then we will definitely go against BJP.”
The Surat district court also heard the bail application of two other Patidar leaders, Chirag Desai and Vipul Desai, who are in jail under sedition charges. The crime branch officials submitted an application in which the investigating officer mentioned that the sedition case was still under investigation and there were other accused yet to be arrested. If both the accused were released on bail, they would tamper with the evidence and threaten the witnesses. The Judicial Magistrate fixed further hearing on the police application on Monday.
In view of the Patidars’ “jail bharo andolan” , Chief Secretary G R Aloria came to Surat Saturday and met Surat Police Commissioner Ashish Bhatia, Surat district Collector Dr Rajender Kumar, Surat District Superintendent of Police Mayur Chawda and Surat Jail Superintendent R L Pandey.
Talking to The Sunday Express, Surat City police commissioner Ashish Bhatia said, “Our police staff have been directed to be on the road since 7 am on Sunday. We have also got 3 SRP companies. We have sufficient number of tear gas shells. We are ready to deal with any type of situation and we will control the situation.”
Surat PAAS convenor Dharmik Malaviya said, “We have tried to convince the Patidar community to come out from their houses and participate in the jail bharo agitation. We expect the participation of over 30,000 people and even more. To convince people, we have carried out meeting in 60 residential societies dominated by Patidars.”
Dinesh Navadia, leader of Patidar Sangh, a newly-formed body, and president of Surat Diamond Association, said, “The Patidar leaders belonging to different trusts and mandals will voluntarily join the jail bharo andolan, but not under the banner of Patidar Sangh. We are expecting over 50 such leaders belonging to different Patidar associated organisations.”
Strict police arrangements have been made across Surat. Sources said that the BRTS buses will not ply in Varachha and other areas of Surat for security purposes on Sunday.
A Committee of Ministers, headed by state Health Minister Nitin Patel, formed to negotiate with the Patel leaders, had recently handed over a report on a compromise formula to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.