CONGRESS LEADER Hardik Patel, on Wednesday, appeared before the Justice (Retired) K A Puj Commission and submitted evidence related to alleged police atrocities against people of the Patidar community, during the Patidar reservation agitation in 2015. The Commission led by retired judge of Gujarat High Court, K A Puj, had summoned Patel.
Patel submitted a four-page affidavit before the Commission, along with evidence in the form of a CD and newspaper cuttings.
Demanding constitutional reservation for Patidars, Patel had led a reservation agitation in 2015. As part of the agitation, a massive public gathering comprising of lakhs of Patidars from across the state, was organised at the GMDC Ground in Ahmeda-bad on August 25, 2015. The gathering turned violent following police action at night. Hardik and his aides were taken into custody.
After this, a number of places in the state had witnessed large scale violence in which 14 people were killed, during police action to control the situation.
After allegations of police atrocities on Patidars, the Gujarat government formed the two-member Commission headed by Justice Puj in October, 2017. The terms of reference of the Commission included, “…to inquire into the factors which led to the occurrence of the incidents at GMDC Ground, Ahmedabad, on 25th August, 2015 and thereafter at various places in the State.”
The Commission was also asked to, “…inquire into the abuse of authority and usage of excessive force, if any, by the police personnel during the course of the incidents in relation to Patidar Reservation Agitation”.
In his affidavit, Hardik alleged that at around 8.10 pm, 15,000 to 16,000 policemen started a lathicharge on around 1,500-2,000 people, after switching off the lights on the ground. He also named three police officers, including the then Joint Commissioner of Police, Rajiv Ranjan Bhagat, who allegedly abused the Patidars and ordered the lathicharge.
Patel also demanded action against police officers who acted ‘for promotion’ while not respecting the Constitution.
He further alleged that police action at the GMDC Ground led to anarchy in the entire state.
Hardik further held the then Gujarat government and Gujarat police responsible for the violence. He also defended the reservation agitation saying that it was well within the constitutional provisions. To buttress his argument, he stated that because his agitation was constitutional, the state government and the then Union government announced a 10% reservation for economically weaker communities.
Justice (retired) K A Puj, who is also the president of the Gujarat Value Added Tax Tribunal, said, “Today, he (Hardik Patel) has appeared before the Commission and submitted a CD and some newspaper cuttings. We will take cognizance of the same and decide further.”
Term to expire
The term of Justice K A Puj Commission is expiring on September 30. In view of the ongoing proceedings, the Comm-ission has sought an extension from the Gujarat government.