Ahmedabad: Gujarat and its Government is tense after Hardik Patel, the 22 year old Patel Community leader called for a bandh in the state late last night. In his message, he said, “I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for calm in the state he ran for more than a decade before leading his nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to victory in last year’s general election. “I appeal to the people of Gujarat to maintain peace. Violence will never achieve anything,” Modi said in a statement broadcast on television.
Patel’s current whereabouts are unknown after he was released after briefly being detained by police last night, following a huge rally to demand obc status and reservation for the highly influential Patel Community. At about 9 pm on Tuesday, the police lathi-charged a large crowd still present at the GMDC ground in Ahmedabad, where Hardik Patel had led the mega-rally. Soon afterwards, Patel was detained and released within an hour. Curfew was imposed in parts of Gujurat after violence following the detention of Hardik Patel.
There were reports of state-run buses being burnt, government offices being ransacked and clashes in parts of Ahmedabad, Surat and in the Saurashtra region and north Gujarat. There is curfew in parts of Surat and in Mehsana district under 9 police stations. Paramilitary forces were deployed and the Union Home Ministry has said it is in constant touch with the state government. No violence was reported after 2 last night, the police said.
Schools and colleges are closed today in Ahmedabad, in order to prevent escalation of violence across the state. Internet services on mobile phones have been suspended across the state to check the spread of rumors through Whatsapp and SMS. Internet however, can be accessed on computers in homes and offices.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has appealed for calm. She also said that she has ordered an inquiry into police action at the venue of Hardik Patel’s rally last night which triggered the violence across the state.
Chief Minister Anandiben, who also belongs to the influential Patel community, has said that they cannot be added to the list of castes entitled to quotas because Gujarat has hit the cap of 50 per cent reservation ordered by the Supreme Court. Other castes that benefit from reservation are opposed to the Patels’.