Patidar leader Hardik Patel detained in Gujarat

Ahmedabad: Patidar agitation spearhead Hardik Patel was detained on Monday evening while on way to Anand in connection with an alleged dacoity and loot incident.

As many as 70 policemen detained the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, intercepting him on the Ahmedabad-Vadodara Expressway, while he was on way to central Gujarat town of Anand for a rally.

His close associate Dinesh Bhambhaniya was picked up by Crime Branch Police from Rajkot in Saurashtra region in the same case. Both were being taken to Patan to hand them over to police there.

According to Patan police, Narendra Patel, who was PAAS Convenor for Mehsana district but had since fallen out with Hardik Patel, in his complaint a day after the alleged incident on Saturday claimed that he and his associate Dilip Savaliya were seated near Navjivan Hotel for snacks when Hardik Patel arrived at the spot with his supporters and asked both not to make derogatory comments.

There was an altercation between the two groups after which, the complainant alleged, Hardik Patel’s supporters abused and attacked them while one of them snatched their gold chain and broke a mobile phone.

Later, when they reached Pragati Maidan in Patan town, where Hardik Patel’s rally took place on Saturday, Narendra Patel alleged that Dinesh Bhambhaniya threatened them with dire consequences.

The police registered a complaint against Hardik Patel, Bhambhaniya, Sunil, Brijesh and Mahesh Patel and unknown persons under Sections 395, 427, 504, and 506(2) of the Indian Penal Code related to dacoity, dishonest or fraudulent removal or concealment of property, intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace, and criminal intimidation.

Before he was detained, Hardik Patel talked to IANS on phone and expressed complete ignorance of the incident and claimed he had left immediately after his rally in north Gujarat’s Patan. “I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said.

At the rally that was attended by a large number of Patidars (Patels), he had called for throwing out the BJP government in Gujarat and asked them to give the Congress an opportunity.

Hardik Patel was accompanied by another Patidar leader, Sardar Patel Group’s Lalji Patel, who has had a love-hate relationship after Hardik’s movement began in 2015.

“The BJP has no sensitivity towards the Patidars, though there are 44 legislators, seven Cabinet Ministers and a Deputy Chief Minister from the community. We are not interested in power but we want reservation, be it from (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s pockets or the barrel of Amit Shah’s gun,” Hardik Patel said in Patan on Saturday evening.

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who had called the Patidar leader a “Congress agent”, was on Monday shown rolling pins and protest banners by a group of women in Patan.