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Gujarat HC again asks Hardik to substantiate abduction claim

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Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court, for a fourth time, today directed Patel quota leader Hardik Patel to file an affidavit substantiating the charge made by his aides that he was abducted by “persons looking like policemen”.

The charge has been made in a habeas corpus petition.

A bench comprising Justice M R Shah and Justice K J Thaker directed Hardik’s lawyer B M Mangukiya to submit a fresh affidavit on the habeas corpus plea filed by the 22-year-old leader’s two aides Dinesh and Ketan Patel.

The bench, after going through the current affidavit of petitioners, said it was not satisfied with the reasons cited for not filing a further affidavit to substantiate their allegation (that Hardik was abducted last month).

“By an order dated October 8, we granted sufficient time to the petitioners to file a further affidavit substantiating the allegation made in the original petition and granted time up to October 19 to file further affidavit.

“No such affidavit has been filed by either of the petitioners. Also, there is no application to extend the time to file further affidavit,” it observed.

“While explaining the reasons for not filing the affidavit, some facts were narrated which are not warranted,” said the judges, referring to the petitioners’ submission they were arrested by police on October 18 ahead of the India-South Africa ODI in Rajkot, which Hardik had threatened to disrupt.

“B M Mangukiya (his lawyer), as such, has conceded that after October 15, he did appear before the High Court in other cases and also attended his office. Therefore, he could have prepared the affidavit,” said the bench.

“Be that as it may, when a further time is sought by the petitioners herein to file further affidavit on the ground of sickness of their advocate, we leave the matter there. And in the interest of justice, we extend the time at the oral request of Mangukiya to file further affidavit up to October 25,” said the HC and posted the next hearing on October 27.

On September 24, 29 and October 8, the HC had directed Hardik’s advocate to file an affidavit substantiating his claim of abduction. The petition was filed when Hardik went missing after addressing a public meeting at Tenpur village in Aravali district of Gujarat on September 22.

The young commerce graduate, spearheading the Patel agitation for reservation in jobs and education under OBC category, surfaced on September 23. Hardik had then claimed he was abducted by “persons looking like policemen”.

During the hearing today, Justice Shah found Hardik’s aide Dinesh using a cellphone during proceedings. He directed the HC staff to seize the cellphone, which it later emerged, belonged to Mangukiya.