In a major show of strength, Patidars (Patels) of Gujarat, who have been demanding reservation under OBC category, on April 3 gathered in large numbers in Surat at a “Laapsi Mahotsav”.
The leaders, who addressed the gathering, once again drove home the point that they would not wind up the agitation unless their demand for reservation is met with and action taken against policemen allegedly involved in atrocities on Patels.
A large number of Patels were booked under various sections of the IPC following incidents of arson in different parts of the state, especially Ahmedabad and North Gujarat. Patels were protesting against the arrest of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel after a public meeting in Ahmedabad in August, last year.
Hardik, who later addressed meetings and conferences at various places, is currently behind bars in Surat on the charges of sedation. A couple of other PAAS leaders are also in jail. Though the state government has withdrawn minor cases against Patels, it has not yet taken a decision of whether it would give a go ahead to withdraw sedation charges against Hardik.
As a fallout of the agitation, the ruling BJP had suffered reverses in the civic elections held last year.
More than 200 kilogram of Laapsi (a sweet made out of broken wheat, sugar and ghee) was distributed to those who took part in the programme in Surat.
Varun Patel, a PAAS leader, told THE WEEK that a 50-kilometer long “padyatra” (walk) from Vijapur in North Gujarat to Gandhinagar will be taken out in May. Claiming that 11,000 people were expected to take part in the two-day yatra, he said that a memorandum would be given to the chief minister demanding a probe by SC Judge into alleged atrocities on Patels.
In June, a convention of 50,000 students would be held in Patan, North Gujarat.
He termed as “baseless” the issue of talks by the state government with Patel leaders to withdraw cases against Hardik.