Court sends three Hardik aides to 7-day police custody

Ahmedabad: A local court today remanded three aides of Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel to seven-day police custody in a sedition case after police said they need to know who is backing the reservation stir in Gujarat and also its source of funding.

Metropolitan Court Magistrate S J Brahmbhatt sent Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel and Dinesh Patel, all members of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), the outfit spearheading the agitation, to the custody of city Crime Branch. In its application, Crime Branch sought 14-day remand of the accused, but the Court granted only seven-day custody.

Yesterday, Crime Branch filed a case against Hardik and five others, charging them with sedition and “waging war against the Gujarat Government”, among other offences.

Besides Hardik, Chirag, Ketan and Dinesh, the others booked in the case are Amrish Patel and Alepsh Kathiria, both members of PAAS who are currently absconding.

Dinesh and Chirag were arrested by police yesterday from outside the Gujarat High Court, while Ketan was apprehended today.

All accused were charged under IPC Sections 121 (waging war against Government), 124 (sedition – bringing hatred, contempt or disaffection towards the Government), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity).

In the remand application, Inspector J S Gedam of Crime Branch sought custody of the trio to find out who were instigating them to “wage war against the State Government”.

“The probe agency needs to interrogate the accused to know about the persons, who have been backing the agitation of PAAS,” said the plea.

The application said the probe agency needs to know the source of funding of the agitation. It also sought to conduct voice spectrography tests of the accused (to match their voice samples with phone intercepts).

During the hearing, Public Prosecutor Jayesh Yadav submitted that the accused were involved in the act of waging war against the State and in such serious charges, the court should grant 14-day remand in interest of fair investigation.

Babu Mangukia, the defence counsel, said police have not given adequate grounds for slapping the serious charges against the trio.

Hardik (22), arrested earlier this week, is currently in custody of Surat Police in another sedition case.