Patel stir: 3 killed, army called in to control Gujarat violence


August 26, 2015

GUJARAT – Three people were killed in widespread violence in Gujarat on Wednesday as tension mounted in the state, even as Hardik Patel vowed to intensify the agitation for OBC quota for Patel community.

August 26, 2015

GUJARAT – Three people were killed in widespread violence in Gujarat on Wednesday as tension mounted in the state, even as Hardik Patel vowed to intensify the agitation for OBC quota for Patel community.

Gujarat violence: The wreckage of a bus that was burnt in the clashes between the police and protesters in Ahmedabad, India, August 26, 2015. India deployed paramilitary forces and imposed a curfew in the western state of Gujarat on Wednesday after violence broke out at a protest led by the Patel community to demand more government jobs and college places. (REUTERS)

Apprehending more trouble, curfew was clamped in parts of Ahmedabad and other major cities across the state during the day. Apart from Ahmedabad, curfew had been clamped in Surat, Mehsana, Rajkot, Jamnagnar and Patan cities.

"Police have recovered bodies of three persons who were suspected to have been killed in violence spread across the city," police spokesman N D Trivedi said.

According to a senior police official, two persons died in police firing in Vastral area, while body of a man was found in Ghatlodia in the city.

"Girish Patel (47) and his son Siddharth Patel (20) were killed in police firing late last night," he said.

The Army was called in on Wednesday as an agitation by Gujarat’s Patidar community for reservation left three people dead in the state amidst spiraling violence across the state despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s called for calm.

The Centre also rushed additional paramilitary forces to state to take control of the law and order situation after the leader of the community vowed to intensify their agitation, which has seen large scale violence since Tuesday, forcing authorities to clamp prohibitory orders in several places.

The leader of the Patidars, commonly known as the Patels, however, blamed police of orchestrating the violence.

“They (police) are indulging in violence. Police are beating (up) mothers, sisters and small children. They are doing it the same way it is done in UP and Bihar,” said Hardik Patel, spearheading the agitation under the banner of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).

As many as 100 buses were torched and property damaged in the violence in Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehsana cities and the towns of Unjha and Visnagar, officials said. Incidents of stone-pelting were also reported on Wednesday morning from Ahmedabad.

Patel, who shot into limelight with a massive rally in the capital on Tuesday, said he has no political affiliation.

 “We have urged people to restore peace. We urge the same to the government and police. If even a single person is beaten, then the government and the police will be responsible for the consequences,” NDTV quoted him as saying.

Rejecting suggestions that the protesters started the violence, he alleged that the police were trying to “disrupt” the movement at the behest of the political establishment.

 “I haven't said anything provocative. We will continue our movement on path of non-violence. We are urging to restore peace. If needed strikes and fast will happen everywhere,” the 22-year-old leader said.

Agitating members of the Patel community indulged in arson and stone pelting and vandalised public property on Tuesday night after brief detention of Hardik Patel after a rally attended by an estimated half-a-million people.

Fresh violence broke out during a day-long bandh on Wednesday called by him even as curfew was clamped in parts of Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehsana districts and thousands of paramilitary and anti-riot personnel were deployed to control the situation.

Normal life was paralysed in several parts of Gujarat as schools, colleges, business establishments including banks and public transport remained closed in view of the bandh.

The diamond and textile industries of Surat remained closed.

In a brief televised appeal, a solemn-looking Modi appealed for peace in his home state and said violence does not benefit anybody.

 “We can reach a solution through negotiations,” Modi said in Gujarati in his first reaction to the agitation which turned violent after the leader of the community Hardik Patel was briefly detained by police on Tuesday.

Modi’s appeal came a day after chief minister Anandiben Patel’s similar call for peace failed to stop violence from spreading.

A police sub-inspector, identified as Mitesh Salunke, was severely injured when a mob pelted stones in Lalgate area of the city during the violence last night.

Official sources said authorities clamped prohibitory orders in several cities and shut down educational institutions after violent protesters torched police stations, burnt government and private vehicles and pelted stones at security personnel.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief minister Anandiben Patel on Wednesday morning and assured full central help to tackle the situation.

About 5,000 personnel of Rapid Action Force, CRPF and BSF have been sent to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order, especially in all curfew-bound areas.

“The agitators clashed with the police and members of the lower castes. They have burnt down nine police stations and over three dozen buses,” PC Thakur, Gujarat director general of police said.

“We had to impose a curfew to control the clashes. Offices, trading houses and educational institutions will not open today.”

Curfew was also imposed in parts of Surat city and Mehsana, in Unjha and Vishnagar town of Mehsana district on Tuesday night.

 In a mega show of strength, the Patel community has warned the BJP government in Gujarat that it will face consequences in 2017 assembly polls if the plea is not accepted.

 "If you do not give our right (reservation), we will snatch it. Whoever will talk of interest of Patels will rule over Patels," Hardik told the gathering on Tuesday.

 The Gujarat government had earlier rejected the demand

 Under a Supreme Court ruling, reservations cannot cross the 50 per cent mark in any state which Gujarat has already reached.

Courtesy: HT