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Fresh violence in Gujarat; PM appeals for calm

Gujarat today witnessed fresh violence during the day-long bandh called over the demand for OBC quota for Patels even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm and emphasised that all issues can be resolved through talks.

Several parts of tension-filled Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehsana districts were placed under curfew and thousands of paramilitray and anti-riot personnel were deployed to control the situation.

Incidents of arson and stone-pelting were reported from many parts of Surat city today when Patel community members came out in large numbers to “enforce” the bandh, police said.

A mob of around 1,000 people burnt two warehouses of Surat Municipal Corporation in Udhna area of the city. Bikes, buses and vehicles were burnt at many places in the city, said Surat Police Control Room officials.

Tension prevailed in major parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and in North Gujarat region, a day after violence erupted following brief detention of Hardik Patel who is leading the agitation for OBC quota for Patel community.

Modi, while making a televised appeal in Gujarati, said, “We all know that no one every benefits from violence.”

He underlined that the government is committed to the welfare of all people and that all issues can be resolved peacefully through discussions.

“In the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the way violence has been resorted to as a tool….I appeal to all brothers and sisters of Gujarat that they should not resort to violence. The only ‘Mantra’ must be ‘Shanti’ (peace),” said Modi, who has been Chief Minister of the state for 12 years.

“All issues can be resolved peacefully through talks…Let us all together bring solution to problems by conducting talks and let us supplement our energies to take the development of Gujarat to newer heights,” the Prime Minister said.

Urging everybody to obey the limitations of democracy, he said it is only through development and by working together that people, especially the poor, can be served.

Hardik Patel blamed police for the violence and said the agitation will intensify in the coming days.