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Prove that Hardik Patel was abducted, Gujarat HC tells his aides

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The Gujarat High Court on Friday asked Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel’s aides to substantiate their claim that he was abducted in September and pulled up their lawyers, who have filed a habeas corpus petition, for delay in submitting a reply.

A bench asked the petitioners to file an affidavit before November 23 to back up their claim and told their lawyers to get ready for an adverse order if they failed to do so this time. The bench of Justices M R Shah and K J Thaker gave the direction hours after the Supreme Court on Friday refused to intervene in the case. This is the sixth occasion the HC has given time to the petitioners to support their claim of Hardik’s abduction.

On October 27, the HC had directed Hardik’s advocates to file an affidavit supporting the charges made in the petition regarding his alleged abduction by unidentified people who “appeared like policemen”. Though Hardik’s lawyers were supposed to file the affidavit on November 4, they sought more time from the Court on that day to do so, saying a separate petition is being filed in the SC to stop proceedings in the habeas corpus plea here. Thus, the HC had adjourned the hearing for today.

As the Supreme Court refused to interfere in the case, the HC today took up the matter for hearing. The habeas corpus petition had been filed by Hardik’s key aides Dinesh Bambhaniya and Ketan Patel when their leader had gone missing after a public meeting in Tenpur village of Aravalli district on September 22.

Hardik, spearheading the agitation for quota for Patels in jobs and education, resurfaced on September 23 after his mysterious disappearance for a day. The 22-year-old then claimed he was abducted by “persons looking like policemen”. At present, Hardik is behind the bars in a case of alleged sedition.