The Gujarat Police on Monday detained Congress leader Hardik Patel after he threatened to go on a hunger strike if action was not taken against the Surat mayor and other officials in connection with a fire that killed 22 students, PTI reported.
The fire had broken out at a coaching centre in Surat on Friday.
City police commissioner Satish Sharma said that Patel had travelled to the site of the fire incident even though the police had denied the Congress permission to hold a protest.
“We cannot give the permission, especially as he already visited the place yesterday and was attacked by a member of his rival group,” Sharma said. “It’s a question of his protection. Also, we cannot allow him to visit the area everyday.”
Sharma was referring to an attempted attack on Patel near the site by a youth who was previously associated with his organisation on May 26. “I am not angry about the attempt to attack me but I am worried why the government is not taking action [with regard to the fire],” Patel had told The Indian Express.
The police statement, however, was countered by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti member Dharmik Malaviya, who said that Patel was detained while he was on his way to the home of quota agitation leader Alpesh Kathiriya, who is currently in jail in a sedition case.
Malaviya said that Patel was taken to the Icchhapore police station.
Earlier on Monday, Patel had speculated on Twitter that the state government wanted to protect those responsible for the fire tragedy from action. “The killers of innocents will be saved,” Patel had tweeted.
The fire had reportedly engulfed the second floor of the Takshashila Complex in Sarthana. The building housed at least four coaching centres. Patel had demanded action against the mayor, fire department and municipal corporation officials within 12 hours.