The epicentre of the Patidar agitation has shifted from north Gujarat to Surat, where Hardik Patel is camping until at least Wednesday to chart future plans. Also, the Surat unit of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti announced plans for a ten-day “Dandi march” from “violence-affected areas”.
The Sardar Patel Group led by Lalji Patel, the parent body from where Hardik started in 2012, has been operating largely out of the north, especially Mehsana.
PAAS’s Surat convener and co-convener Alpesh Katheriya and Vishal Vasoya told a press conference Tuesday they have decided to walk the Gandhian march and will go on “symbolic fasts” in the places worst hit by the violence after the Ahmedabad rally of August 25. They urged the community not to take the law in their own hands.
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The PAAS leaders did not give details where and when the march would begin. The decision was taken after a meeting presided over by Hardik Patel at a farmhouse belonging to a Patidar leader in Surat.
The Surat edition of the Patidar rallies had seen the biggest turnout, around 4.5 lakh, on August 17 in the build-up to Ahmedabad rally. After that rally, Katheriya was a key mobiliser of the Ahmedabad rally.
Hardik met over 500 Patidars where he appealed for donations to the families of the eight Patidar youths who died in the violence. Surat has over 10 lakh Patidars including five BJP MLAs.
Hardik and five aides also met 23 Patidar men jailed in connection with the violence in Surat. They have alleged they were beaten up in custody of police and are now in judicial custody. Hardik assured them legal aid; Lalji in Ahmedabad announced financial and legal aid for families who lost members, the injured and the jailed.
“We will also donate money to the family members of policeman Dilip Rathwa (lynched by a mob in Surat). As of now 70 Patidar persons have been arrested or detained and many more kept illegally in police custody,” Vishal Vasoya said. “We are also thinking of a ten-day programme to take out a Dandi march up to Navsari from various districts where police torture took place.”
Katheriya said, “We have decided to carry out symbolic fasts in areas where police beat up women, children and youths. We will select a location where a large number of people can gather. For the eight martyrs who died due to the police torture, we will open bank accounts and we appeal to people to donate in those accounts.”