Even as the Ahmedabad police on Monday filed a 2,700-page chargesheet against Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel and three of his associates on grounds of sedition, a community leader insisted that the “non-violent” but “aggressive” agitation for quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for members of their Patel community would continue.
“Our demands include asking the Gujarat government to clarify its stand on reservations to Patels, take back all the cases filed against Patel agitators, release all the jailed Patel agitators and initiate stern action against errant officials who have high handedly tried to crush Patel agitation,” Laljibhai Patel told reporters.
Scores of members of the Patel community were jailed in September as they took to the streets across Gujarat to press for their demands. The face of the movement was 23-year-old Hardik Patel. Monday’s sedition charge against him was the second such case filed against him: he already faces one in Surat.
Laljibhai Patel noted that the Gujarat government seemed to be taking a contrary position in its attitude towards the people jailed during the agitation. “On the one hand they are talking of withdrawing cases against Patel agitators and on the other they continue to file lengthy chargesheets against our brothers,” he said.
The Ahmedabad police have booked Hardik Patel, Chirag Patel, Dinesh Bhamaniya and Ketan Patel for sedition and waging war against the elected government. The police also declared two of Hardik Patel’s associates Alpesh Kathiriya and Amrish Patel as absconders.
The chargesheet contains details of telephone conversation between Hardik Patel, his associates and his supporters, statements of 503 witnesses and reports of Forensic Science Laboratory certifying the veracity of the calls. Hardik and 14 other PAAS leaders have been in custody since October 18.
While the state government has already announced its intention of withdrawing several cases against many of the other Patel agitators and to ease the process for them to get bail, it is yet to spell out its position on relief for Hardik Patel and his close associates. Patel has also expressed his willingness to reach an agreement with the state government.
Laljibhai Patel said that the Patels would boycott all the government functions till their demands are met.