GANDHINAGAR: The spectre of a renewed spurt in Patidar protests is hovering over Gujarat as the police took pro-reservation stir leader Hardik Patel into custody, ahead of the Prime Minister’s visit to the State on August 23. The Crime Branch made the arrest hours before Hardik was to undertake a token fast in a parked vehicle in Nikol suburb of Ahmedabad. The arrest immediately triggered state-wide protests beginning in Surat.
Hardik was to hold a day long token fast to protest against the state government move to deny him a venue for his proposed indefinite fast from August 25 in support of the Patidar demand for reservation in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions. Hardik’s outfit had much put in a request for police permission well in time; but just ahead of the indefinite fast, the venue, the Nikol ground, was converted into a parking lot by official order to thwart the protest.
The cops took Hardik to the Crime branch headquarters where a case has been registered against him under IPC sections 144 and 189. Arrested along with him were several of his supporters, including Dharmesh Malaviya, Alpesh Kathirya and Manoj Panera. The arrests have again created unrest in the community and Patidars have threatened to disrupt the programme of the prime minister, unless their programme, slated for August 25, is given permission. The Congress also criticized the arrest of Hardik Patel with both Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda and leader of the opposition Paresh Dhanani decrying the government action. There were reports of disruption of traffic in various parts of the state and the police has been alerted to thwart all such attempts.