Patel war cry sets Gujarat afire; Army called in

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 26, 2015

Buses set on fire in Surat on Tuesday night after the arrest of Hardik Patel, convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, who is leading protests demanding reservation for the community under the OBC quota. - PTI


Rampant vandalism; at least 2 killed; curfew imposed in several towns

Spearheaded by 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the Patidar reservation agitation has turned violent, leaving at least two dead and several injured.

Several of Gujarat’s towns and cities witnessed vandalism and arson by Hardik’s supporters on Tuesday night following his arrest in Ahmedabad. By dawn on Wednesday, public property worth crores had been destroyed. Patel had called for a Gujarat bandh on Wednesday.

Curfew was clamped in parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Palanpur, Mehsana, Visnagar and Unjha. In a major embarrassment for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, her constituency, Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad, had to be put under curfew from Tuesday night.

Notably, it was for the first time after 2002 that Gujarat witnessed such widespread violence. The violence turned into a major tussle between the mob and police.

Accusing the police of atrocity and unprovoked vandalism in the residential areas, Patidar agitators took to the streets, targeting public property and police stations. On Tuesday, the media, along with Patidar agitators, had faced a police crackdown and lathicharge.

Buses off the roads

Over 40 buses and several police vehicles were set ablaze by the crowd in various parts of the State, while several police stations, government offices, bus stations and traffic posts were also set on fire. The government decided to take about 6,500 buses off road, which disrupted public transport between cities.

Minister’s home set ablaze

The angry mob also targeted various BJP leaders as stone-pelting was reported at their offices and residences. The home of Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel was set ablaze by the locals in Mehsana. Tension mounted further in the day as the violence spread to smaller towns like Morbi, Gondal, Bhavnagar, Patan among others. Mobile internet and SMS services were suspended to avoid spread of rumours.

Trains delayed

Northern Gujarat being the epicentre of the agitation, trains were running late while trains between Ahmedabad and Delhi. The Delhi Rajdhani Express and Ashram Express were halted for the day.

According to a statement from the DGP office, 133 companies of Central paramilitary forces, including the CRPF and BSF, were deployed in the State in troubled areas of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot.

CM must quit: Cong

The Opposition Congress has demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation for her failure to contain the violence. “This shows the inability of State government in tackling the violence.

We condemn the police action on the residents and the attacking of their private property,” said Shankersinh Vaghela, leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly. The three-day session of Gujarat Assembly began on Wednesday.

By evening, the Army conducted a flag march in riot-affected places in the key cities.

Hardik Patel, on the other hand, refused to back down. “Our agitation will continue. But we request our people to stay in doors and not take law in their hands,” he said in his appeal.

Last night, the Gujarat police had arrested Patel, the face of the Patidar reservation agitation, from the GMDC Grounds in Ahmedabad where the police allegedly resorted to ‘unprovoked’ lathicharge and heavily injured agitators including women. Patel was released on bail after a couple of hours of detention.

But the incident drew flak from Patidar community across the State, who took to streets and highways creating jams across main roads and rail tracks.

Published on August 26, 2015
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