September 23, 2015 6:38:18 pm
Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on a two-nation tour including the US, the Gujarat government began to curb the Patidar agitation for OBC status by way of aggressive crackdown on its leaders and preparing educational package for the socially and economically weaker sections.
However, the government maintained that the crackdown was not related to PM’s visit to the US, where the Patidars are likely to take out a rally near United Nations office. While drama over Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel’s disappearance and resurfacing continued on Wednesday, the police have taken his three aides into custody even as another aide in Morbi was booked for sedition charges.
“Crackdown was done as they (PAAS leaders) had violated public notification and held public meeting without permission,” said Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel.
The minister added, “In Mehsana district, others including Alpesh Patel (OBC leader) have also been booked for the same.”
Rajnikant has dismissed Hardik Patel’s claim that police held him hostage for the whole night in a car before releasing him near Dhrangadhra in Surendranagar district. “The police have not taken him into custody. He had disappeared from a public meeting in Aravalli district,” Rajnikant said.
Rajnikant added, “Hardik has been trying to mislead the people of Gujarat by false allegations that police held him hostage.”
He further said, “Any one can represent their demand within limits of law. But in doing so law and order situation should not be threatened and people should not suffer damage. Or the police will take the action.”
On the other hand, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel held a series of meetings Wednesday to assess law and order situation as well as prepare draft for an educational pacakage to address the issues of education that upper castes face in wake of the reservation system. The 10-day deadline set for the government during meeting between the PAAS and Anandiben on September 14 to look into various issues raised by agitators ends on Thursday.
Soon after the weekly cabinet meet was over in the afternoon, where the issue of Hardik’s disappearance and the subsequent habeas corpus in the HC dominated proceedings, the second meeting followed thereafter.
To make sure that Modi’s US tour passes off peacefully without any protest, coupled with the fact that the 10-day deadline period was coming to end, Anandiben had warned of an aggressive crackdown on September 19, soon after Hardik had made an unsuccessful attempt to take out Ekta Yatra from Surat despite no permission from the administration.
“It is enough now. If anybody will take law in their hand, the law will take its course,” said Anandiben at a public function in Mandvi of Surat district on the same day.
Crackdown began at the next instance of violation of public notification on ban on public meeting. The government decided to take an aggressive stand after the PAAS did not keep its word on holding any intense programs. Soon after the meeting between the PAAS members and the government, health minister and spokesman Nitin Patel had said the meeting was satisfactory and the Patidars have assured to avoid intense programs.
But next day, however, Hardik had announced a 7-point agitation program including protests in the US against Modi by NRI Patidars, demanded resignation of Rajnikant and announced Ekta Yatra and five mega public rallies.
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