The Visnagar sessions court in Mehsana district on Wednesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, Sardar Patel Group convener Lalji Patel and five others for not appearing before it in connection with a case of vandalism at a local BJP MLA’s office during the stir in July, 2015. The accused are facing the charges of loot, vandalism and conspiracy.
Hardik, through his lawyer Rajendra Patel, moved an application seeking exemption from appearance on the ground of “prior engagement”, which was strongly objected by the public prosecutor. He argued that earlier also Hardik had sought exemption without giving any “solid reason”. Following the arguments, sessions judge V P Agarwal refused to entertain the exemption pleas of Hardik and six other accused.
The same court had granted regular bail to Hardik last year, while barring him from entering Mehsana, the epicentre of reservation violence in 2015. Hardik and 16 other accused were arrested by Visnagar police on the basis of a complaint by local BJP MLA Rishikesh Patel. Hardik had moved the Gujarat High Court to modify the bail condition on the ground that his relatives and people from the community live in Mehsana. He withdrew the petition after the High Court refused to entertain it.
Soon after the Visnagar court’s order, Hardik, in his interviews and tweets, questioned the state government over its announcement of withdrawing all cases against Patidar agitators. “All this is happening, despite the government’s announcement to withdraw all the cases against Patidars,” Hardik said in his interviews to news channels.
Later in the day, while addressing a huge gathering at Manavadar village in Botad Pdistrict, he said, “It is Labh Pancham today and many of you must have got something new and done a mahurat. I have done a different kind of mahurat today,” pointing to the arrest warrant.
He also hit out at the BJP over allegations that the party is trying to defect Patidar leaders by offering them huge sum of money. “Here is a party which used to ask people to give them a missed call and then recruit them. Now, the same party is paying Rs 1 crore to recruit people. I request youngsters of our community to be prepared to be arrested if the need arises. If the BJP is like the angrez (Britishers), I am willing to be Bhagat Singh and fight them,” he said, which was followed by a deafening applause.
“The fight is not about the BJP or Congress. It is very clear. We have to make sure that BJP does not win. I am not interested in getting a seat. I am interested in seeing our community progress. I do not need reservation because I have always got 50 per cent marks whether I have studied or not. It is for the deserving people of our community that we will continue to fight,” he added..
For the past couple of days Hardik has been under attack by the BJP for meeting Gujarat election in-charge and former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and later reportedly Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at a hotel in Ahmedabad. Several CCTV footages are doing the rounds, purpotedly showing him meeting Rahul.
He also brought up the issue. “There is no privacy. If a youngster and his fiancée are in a hotel then footage of them in the corridor of the hotel will be available in the market. How can CCTV visuals be shown like this?”
Hardik has been denying meeting Rahul. He has been maintaining that he would meet Rahul during his next visit.