Gujarat on alert as Hardik Patel goes on fast

On third anniversary of Patidar agitation, youth leader pushes ahead with demands under heavy security

August 25, 2018 09:11 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 08:24 am IST - AHMEDABAD

In solidarity: Asha Patel, MLA, ties a rakhi on the wrist of Hardik Patel, who started a fast in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

In solidarity: Asha Patel, MLA, ties a rakhi on the wrist of Hardik Patel, who started a fast in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Saturday began a fast on the outskirts of the city amid heavy deployment of the police and the detention of several of his aides.

He is pressing for reservation for the Patidar community and waiver of farm debt in the State.

Tight security

Policemen have been deployed to frisk all visitors to his sprawling farm house, the venue of the fast.

Several Congress leaders, including Lalit Vasoya, Lalit Kagathara, Kirit Patel, Asha Patel and Brijesh Merja, were present when Mr. Patel began his fast at 3 p.m. in the presence of hundreds of supporters.

 

“Today is the third anniversary of the Patidar agitation. Two months ago, we had sought permission to stage a protest in the form of an indefinite fast. The administration has denied us permission to hold protests even in Gandhinagar. Since we were denied all venues we sought, we decided to hold it in my residence,” Mr. Patel told presspersons at the venue.

“In all highways, the police are intercepting and checking vehicles to prevent our activists and supporters [from participating in the agitation],” Mr. Patel said, slamming the BJP government for using force and the State machinery to dissuade people from supporting his fast.

Days-long protest

“Thousands across the State will sit on fast, and the protest will continue for days. I have also invited people to come to my house to join me in the fast. This is not about me. It is about the people of Gujarat,” he said.

On Friday, the Gandhinagar district administration denied him permission to hold a protest. “All this shows the government is scared of the agitation,” Mr. Patel said.

Director-General of Police (DGP) Shivanand Jha has directed all senior police officials to remain vigilant.

The State Reserve Police (SRP) has also been deployed.

R.B. Brahmbhatt, chief of Gujarat’s Intelligence Bureau (IB), said that 158 people from across the State have been detained by the police based on intelligence inputs. He denied Mr. Patel’s claim that several thousand persons had been held.

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