Hardik Patel in detention; protests at few places in Gujarat

Rajkot: Rajkot police today detained the firebrand Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel ahead of the India-South Africa One-Day International here as he had threatened to disrupt the match.

Till late at night, he hadn’t been released.

His detention sparked protest at a few places in Gujarat. In Morbi, a state transport bus was torched, while Patel leaders blocked the National Highway 8 passing through Surat.

Hardik and four of his close aides were picked up by the police from Madhapar crossroads when he was on his way to the Khandheri stadium near here at around 1.40 pm.

Rajkot (Rural) Superintendent of Police Gagandeep Gambhir took them to the SRP headquarters in Ghanteswar area on the city’s outskirts.

Moments before this, Hardik told reporters that he only wanted to watch the match like a common spectator. However, SP Gambhir was in no mood to buy this.

“I can’t believe that Hardik would just sit quietly and do nothing during the match. He has already threatened to disrupt the match by various means. We were sure he would have done something mischievous if he had been allowed to go inside the stadium. So we have detained him,” the SP said.

Earlier, the 22-year-old leader had said the Patel activists will block the way of both the teams and stop them them from reaching the stadium. He had also urged the Patel community members to remain present in a large numbers during the match to raise the reservation demand.

SP Gambhir also said that the police will file an FIR against Hardik for allegedly insulting the national flag.

According to her, Hardik’s feet touched the national flag which he was carrying when he jumped on the car in an attempt to talk to media when he was stopped by police.

Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, who was in Bharuch today, supported reservations for the economically backward classes (EBCs) in open category, including the Patel community.

“We believe that without disturbing the quota meant for SC,ST and OBCs, government can think of giving reservations to all those communities including Patels who are economically weak and poor,” Patel told reporters.

On the other hand, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor upped the ante against Gujarat Government. Thakor, who is leading a movement to counter Patels’ demand of OBC quota, gave 15-day ultimatum to government to rein in the Patel agitation, and threatened to start Jail-bharo (courting arrest) agitation otherwise.