The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday suspended the jail sentence awarded by a trial court to Hardik Patel in connection with a riots case during the Patel quota agitation in 2015. The order will be valid till the next hearing, IANS reported.
The Visnagar Sessions Court in Mehsana district on July 25 sentenced Patel and two of his aides, Lalji Patel and AK Patel, to two years in jail. The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader was found guilty of vandalising Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Rishikesh Patel’s office.
They were charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to rioting, arson, damage to property, and unlawful assembly. The three were also fined Rs 50,000 each. Soon after the verdict, all the convicts were granted bail. A total of 17 people were named accused in the case, but the court let off 14 others due to lack of evidence.
“The High Court has given its order in a case filed by me. Now, whatever process is required in the High Court, we will do that,” Patel said after the stay order. “I have been maintaining that we have not carried out any illegal activity that we should be punished.”
Patel also announced that he would start an indefinite fast on August 25, the third anniversary of the Patidar reservation agitation. “We have been working for truth and if I raise the issues of people and you want to dub Hardik as a rebel, then I am a rebel,” he said.
Patel added that he would meet the police commissioner and collector on Friday. “We are seeking permission as per our democratic rights and hope that they would agree,” he said.
Patel is the leader of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which is leading agitations, demanding Other Backward Class status and 27% reservation in government jobs and education for the Patel community.