Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel on Saturday began an indefinite hunger strike at his home after the police denied him permission to hold the strike in either Gandhinagar or Ahmedabad. Patel lives in an apartment building in Ahmedabad’s suburbs.
The 25-year-old Patidar leader, who began his fast at 3 pm, has vowed not to eat till the government agrees to give the community “Other Backward Class” status and waive the loans of farmers.
“I appeal to all the political parties and leaders to raise their voice against the British-type rule of the BJP government,” the Hindustan Times quoted Patel as saying. “Jallianwala Bagh like situation has been created outside my home. Even supply of essentials like milk and water has been stopped. Some 16,000 supporters, who had started for here, have been detained across the state.”
The police, however, rejected Patel’s allegations. “Not 16,000, only 158 persons across Gujarat have been detained,” said Additional Director General of Police RB Brahmbhatt. He recalled that Patel had been allowed to take out a rally in 2015 “but it had turned extremely violent”. That is why the Patidar leader was not given permission this time, he added.
“This hunger strike is not a one-day affair,” The Hindu quoted Hardik Patel as saying. “Thousands across the state would sit on fast and it will continue for days. I have also invited people to come to my house to join me in the fast. This is not about me. It is about people of Gujarat.”
The Patidar leader said several national-level leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, may visit Gujarat to show their solidarity for his cause, PTI reported.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel alleged that the agitation was sponsored by the Congress. “Ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress wants to divide the community,’’ Nitin Patel alleged.
The police are checking every vehicle taking the approach road to Patidar leader’s home and checking the identity of passengers in an attempt to stop his supporters from reaching the protest venue, the Hindustan Times reported.
After Congress legislators Lalit Vasoya, Lalit Kagathara and Kirit Patel were reportedly stopped, the Opposition party sought an appointment with Governor OP Kohli. “We are likely to meet the governor,” Vasoya said. “We would make the representation that Hardik and his supporters should be allowed to protest.”