Gujarat Congress leader Hardik Patel has been untraceable since January 18, when he was arrested in connection with a 2015 sedition case, his wife claimed on Monday, according to News18 Hindi.
Five days after the arrest, Patel was granted bail in the sedition case, but was arrested immediately after he walked out of Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad in another case – for allegedly addressing a political rally in 2017 without permission. The Patidar community leader has more than 20 cases against him across the state.
A trial court issued a non-bailable warrant against Patel on February 7 after he failed to appear for a hearing.
“Hardik Patel has been untraceable since he was arrested on January 18,” his wife, Kinjal Patel, said at an event organised by Patidar leaders in Ahmedabad. “Though we do not know where he is, the police frequently comes to our residence to ask me about his whereabouts.”
The Patidar leaders’ meeting was organised to put pressure on the state government to withdraw around 1,500 cases lodged against people who took part in the Patidar quota agitation in 2015. That year, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti had launched protests to demand the Other Backward Class status and 27% reservation in government jobs and education for the community.
Patel spent nine months in jail – October 2015 to July 2016 – in connection with the sedition case before being granted bail. Two years later, in November 2018, the court framed charges against him and the other accused. After his arrest, Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat. “Hardik Patel, who has been fighting for the employment of the youth and farmers’ right, is being frequently harassed by the BJP,” she tweeted. Patel had joined the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.