Indefinite curfew has been clamped in Mehsana in North Gujarat on Sunday following clashes between police and Patidars after the latter marched to the sub-jail to court arrest.
Sunday's move of courting arrest is an important regrouping of the Patels, who have been demanding reservation under OBC category for nearly one year now. Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel has been in Surat jail for months on the charges of sedation.
The Patels are demanding reservation and release of Hardik Patel. A Gujarat bandh call has been given by the Patels for April 18.
Police used to water canons, lathi charge and tear gas shells to quell the protest. Several Patel agitators were injured. There have been a few contradictory statements about the clashes. While the police say the agitators resorted to stone throwing first, the Patels argue that it was done in self defense to counter police excesses.
Several agitators, including Sardar Patel Group’s Lalji Patel, were injured. The number of people detained is not immediately clear.
Five companies of State Rfeserve Police have been deployed in Mehsana. The state transport cancelled 200 state transport buses to Mehsana and nearby Patan town. Internet services have been stopped to prevent rumours from spreading.
State BJP president Vijay Rupani has termed the incident as unfortunate and appealed people to maintain calm. However, a casual remark by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has come under flak from the opposition Congress. In response to a question on the agitation by a section of media, Anandiben had said, “Agitations keep happening. Their (government’s) job is to keep working for people.”
National Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil alleged that the state government handled the situation ineptly, especially at a time when talks are being held between the agitators and the state government to work out a formula.