Patel quota stir turns violent, curfew clamped in Mehsana; Gujarat CM urges people to maintain peace

A massive rally of the Patel community at Mehsana town in Gujarat demanding reservation and release of their jailed leaders on Sunday turned violent.

Last Updated: Apr 18, 2016, 00:59 AM IST
Patel quota stir turns violent, curfew clamped in Mehsana; Gujarat CM urges people to maintain peace

Mehsana: A massive rally of the Patel community at Mehsana town in Gujarat demanding reservation and release of their jailed leaders on Sunday turned violent as police used lathicharge and fired teargas shells on the agitators who allegedly engaged in stone-pelting.

Patel protesters had gathered at Modhera crossroad as part of the `Jail Bharo' agitation announced by the Sardar Patel Group (SPG), one of the prominent groups seeking OBC quota for the Patel community.

In view of the violence, all bus routes in Botad district was suspended as precautionary measures.

Also, curfew has been imposed in Mehsana and internet services has been suspended till 12 midnight tomorrow.

Mobile internet services has also been suspended in Rajkot and Surat.

"We have imposed a curfew in Mehsana town till tomorrow morning. Mobile internet service has been suspended during this period. The violent mob set ablaze two government properties. A sub-divisional magistrate and a mamlatdar (revenue officer) were injured in the stone-pelting," said Lochan Sehra, Collector of Mehsana, 73 km from Ahmedabad.

"Section 144 imposed, mobile internet services suspended till April 19th," Surat police commissioner Ashish Bhatia said.

At the same time,  SPG as well as Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) have given a call for `Gujarat Bandh' tomorrow.

"District administration did not grant permission, rejection letter was also sent on time. Protesters pelted stones, set SDM's vehicle on fire. Police then used tear gas shells," Sehra added, as per ANI.

"Protesters also attempted to set two government properties on fire. Situation is now under control," he further said.

On the other hand, Ashish Bhatia, Surat Police Commissioner said, "Strict action will b taken against people who will try to disrupt peace in state."

Earlier, SPG chief Lalji Patel reportedly received head injury during the face-off with the police.

While the police claimed they resorted to lathicharge only after some persons started throwing stones at the police vehicles, Lalji Patel alleged that Patel agitators were targeted without any provocation.

"Our protest was peaceful as announced earlier. However, police suddenly hit me and some of our members when we were walking ahead of the procession. I was hit on head. You can see the blood on my face. We were beaten up without any provocation," said Patel, who along with some other agitators were detained by the police subsequently, as per PTI.

In-charge DGP of Gujarat PP Pandey claimed the situation deteriorated only after some people resorted to violence.

"Police always work to establish peace. The gathering was peaceful initially. However, the situation deteriorated only after some persons resorted to violence and damaged property. I have already sent additional force to handle the situation," Pandey said.

In Surat, police detained as many as 435 Patel agitators who came out on streets after learning about incidents in Mehsana.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh talked to Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel in view of the situation in the state.

On her part, Gujarat CM tweeted: "I urge my fellow citizens of Gujarat to maintain peace and harmony across state. Violence has never and will not be the solution of any matter."

(With Agency inputs)