‘We were arrested for Hardik, but he didn’t help us’

Nine youths today accused Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel of not extending any help to them, when they were arrested here for protesting against the leader’s arrest in Surat last month.

Urvish Patel, one of the nine youths arrested by the city police yesterday, said they had protested in against Hardik’s Surat arrest on September 19.

“The next day, Navrangpura police informed us that we have been charged for rioting and other offences,” he said here.

“After the police informed us, we approached Hardik to seek his help as we believed him to be a true leader of the Patel community. Although he initially assured to help us, he did not even not bother to take our calls later,” Urvish, who studies M Com in a city college, said.

“Later, we sought help from another so-called leader Lalji Bhai, convener of Sardar Patel group, who started the reservation agitation and is believed to be the mentor of Hardik. However, he also turned deaf ears to our pleadings to save us from legal proceedings,” he alleged.

“When neither Hardik nor Lalji helped us, seven of us yesterday surrendered before the police (and were subsequently arrested), while two others were also arrested,” he said.

Apart from Urvish, the other youths were identified as Montu Patel, Sanket Patel, Tejas Patel, Rahul Patel, Pratik Patel, Hardik Patel, Kalpesh Patel and Mayur Patel.

According to the FIR filed in Navrangpura police station, the youths were charged under the Indian Penal code (IPC) sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 435 (mischief by fire), 336 (an act endangering life of others) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy).

Today, members of another Patel community outfit known as ‘Patidar Sankalan Samiti’ (PSS) approached the local court and bailed them out.

PSS convener Nachiket Mukhi told reporters that those youths were misguided by Hardik’s call and resorted to violence.

“We will urge all the youths of our community to not choose the path of violence as we prefer to follow the law of the land,” Mukhi said.

We are firm on our demand of reservation, but not by the way of violence, but by exhausting legal remedies, he added.

Member of PSS, Prakash Patel, alleged that these youths were misguided by Hardik and Lalji, but other youths should learn a lesson from this incident as none of the two leaders had helped them.