Hours before the release of Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel from the Central Jail in Surat, police Thursday night imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code or CrPC, citing “terror threat” and upcoming festivals.
Hardik’s outfit has planned a “massive” roadshow on Friday to celebrate his release after nearly 10 months of incarceration. While police allowed the roadshow, they did not give permission for a public meeting led by the 22-year-old Patidar leader.
The roadshow would coincide with Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s visit to the city to unveil a number of development projects. The two, however, would take different routes.
Imposing Section 144 of the CrPC— that prohibits assembly of more than four people in an area — till September 12, Surat police commissioner Ashish Bhatia cited “terror threat” and bid to maintain law and order in view of upcoming festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Bakri Eid and Independence Day. The prohibitory orders might affect Patidar attendance during the roadshow.
While the Gujarat government has made strict security arrangements in view of the Patidar events, Hardik, in his last letter from the jail on Thursday, appealed to the community to ensure no untoward incident during the celebratory programmes. “My humble appeal to the people of Gujarat is that law and order should be maintained … and this should be the responsibility of volunteers of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti,” he wrote.
Along with the Samiti, dissident BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya, who recently met AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal, has appealed to the Patidars to join the roadshow in large numbers to “show strength without fear and inhibition”. The Samiti claimed several Patidar leaders from Congress and BJP would join the celebrations.
The Samiti has also etched out a packed schedule for Hardik who would likely visit “several sensitive areas” in Surat, Ahmedabad, Viramgam, Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions in 48 hours before leaving the state for six months as per the bail condition imposed by the Gujarat High Court in two sedition cases against him. Dharmik Malaviya, the Samiti’s Surat unit co-convener, said a 30-member team has been formed to stay with Hardik for 48 hours.
According to Patidar sources, traditional white kediyu-choyni — usually worn by farmers in Gujarat — has been sent to the Lajpore jail along with a pair of black Pathani sandals for Hardik to wear on Friday when he comes out of jail around 11 am (Anandiben is scheduled to visit the city around 4 pm).
After coming out of jail, Hardik would ride an open jeep escorted by 30 motorcycles and followed by a rally of cars, Malaviya said. The 22-year-old would not only meet members of the Patidar community, but also gaurakshaks in Sachin and Muslims in Unn areas, the sources said, adding that he would also interact with Dalits at Bhestan after garlanding the statue of B R Ambedkar.
Later, he would visit Khodiyar Mataji temple at Laldarwaja and Umiya Mata temple at Varachha, and also release the video CD of Gujarati film on the quota agitation Power of Patidar.
“We haven’t got permission for a public meeting at Yogi chowk. We have only permission for the rally. The rally will end at Laxmi Farm in Nana Varachha,” said Vishal Vasoya, a Samiti leader.
On Saturday morning, Hardik would visit his home town Viramgam, where his family members and supporters have planned a function to honour him. Later, he would reach Ahmedabad Sessions Court to finish some legal formalities, offer prayers at Sarangpur Hanuman temple, and hold a roadshow at Botad.
Hardik would likely visit Kagvad’s Khodaldham temple, important to Leuva Patidars, and Kadva Patidars’s Umiya Mata temple at Sidsar. In the evening, the Patidar leader, as per schedule, would lead a roadshow in Morbi and then return to Viramgam, said Samiti leader Dinesh Bambhaniya. On Sunday, Hardik might visit those areas in north Gujarat which have witnessed violence during the quota stir before leaving the state.