Nimesh Patel, 47, was not among the agitating Patidar activists Tuesday when he was killed. He had only stopped to watch a rally in Ghatlodia, Anandi Patel’s constituency, when the police cracked down on the protesters.
“We always stay away from crowds. We don’t even go to temples during festivals. So, participating in a rally, even one organised by our own community, was out of the question,” said Vipul Patel, his brother.
The Leuva Patel family of six includes Nimesh’s two daughters, 22 and 19, and octogenarian parents. “My father was the only earning member of the family,” said Vaidehi, the 22-year-old.
“Our strongest fear of getting harmed by an unmanageable crowd came true. But it was not because of a stampede or violence but police torture,” added Vaidehi, a postgraduate in business administration.
It happened at a crossing hardly 100 metres from their house. “You can still see the bloodstains on the road,” said Nimesh’s youngest brother, Jitendra.
Nimesh was returning from his electrical shop around 10 pm when he stopped to watch the approaching crowd. When he did not return home or respond to calls, Jitendra went to the crossing. “I saw a large group of Rapid Action Force personnel beating up the crowd. Someone told me a man was injured and lying on the road. I did not imagine he could be my brother,” said Jitendra.
“Around 11 pm, I received a call from my brother’s mobile. The caller told me my brother was injured, lying on the road. We rushed there and found Nimesh,” said Vipul.
Nimesh was declared dead on arrival at a hospital. The FIR registered with Sola police station under IPC section 302 (murder) is against “four unidentified police personnel in blue uniform”.
Vipul said he had volunteered and helped police manage the traffic entering Ahmedabad from across Gujarat for the rally. “I had helped the police for 48 hours at a crossing,” he said. “Now this has happened.”
The family plans to meet the chief minister. “The chief minister and police officers are asking people to maintain calm an peace. Why don’t they first ask their own men to maintain peace? We don’t want any financial help but justice and the security of my two granddaughters,” Nimesh’s father Kantilal Patel said.
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