Congress leader Hardik Patel, who was the face of the 2015 Patidar agitation, has been the target of a physical attack again. He was on Sunday visiting Takshashila Complex where a fire on Friday killed 22 students, when the attempted attack took place.
Hardik had come to Surat for the first time on Sunday after joining the Congress party before the Lok Sabha polls. Accompanied by Leader of Opposition of Surat Municipal Corporation Pappan Togadiya, and Congress councillors Vijay Pansurya and Dinesh Kachhafiya, Hardik arrived at site of the burnt out commercial building at Sarthana. Surat Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) co-convenors Dharmik Malaviya, Nikhil Savani and other members were also present. At the time, a youth identified as Ruchit Desai belonging to the Patidar community, and who was earlier with the Surat PAAS, came close to Hardik and tried to attack him.
Dharmik and Nikhil immediately caught hold of Ruchit. Police present at the site of the fire also acted quickly, taking Ruchit away from the spot.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Hardik said, “I am not angry about the attempt to attack me but I am worried why the government is not taking action (with regard to the fire). We want action to be taken against the Mayor, SMC engineers and fire officials.”
Hardik later visited the houses of the families of the deceased students and offered his condolences.
More than a month earlier, on April 19, at a rally in Surendranagar district, a man named Tarun Gajjar, slapped Hardik while he was on stage.
As soon as Hardik began his speech at Baldana village in Wadhwan taluka, Gajjar suddenly came on the stage and slapped him. The incident was captured on cameras of news channels. Congress candidate for the Surendranagar Lok Sabha seat, Soma Patel, was present on the dais when the incident took place.
Hours after the attack, Hardik accused the BJP of trying to attack and kill him. “The BJP is trying to harm me,” Patel was quoted as saying by PTI.