Firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel returned to Gujarat on Tuesday after completing the six-month exile imposed upon him by the state high court in connection with two sedition cases.
Addressing a public rally upon his homecoming at Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha district, Hardik said he would continue his struggle to secure OBC reservation for the Patidar community.
In a veiled attack on the state’s BJP government, the quota stir leader said he would strive to end the rule of ‘fear’ in Gujarat.
The 23-year-old leader holds the right-wing party responsible for the death of 13 Patidar youths in police firing during a protest following Hardik’s detention by the police at the end of massive rally on August 25, 2015 in Ahmedabad.
Hardik’s attack came at a time when the state government is trying hard to solder its fractured ties with the Patel community, considered as loyal voters of the BJP.
Hardik, who in the past has referred to BJP president Amit Shah as General Dyer, said he did not blame the police for the deaths of the youths.
“I do not blame police(for deaths of Patidar youths). It was not your fault… you are servants of your masters. In fact, you too are in the fixed-salary group. I appeal to policemen to come and support our agitation,’’ he said.
He appealed to his community members to get their act together for the second round of “dangal”. “Let us come together again. I want you to reach out to every citizen living in each part of the state. Let us awake them about our cause,” he said.
Hardik maintained that he did not have any personal ambition but at the same time said, “Tomorrow one of us may become the chief minister , so better we work together’’. According to Hardik, he could be put in jail again but he assured those gathered that he would not let go of his demands.
“I am sure, they will soon put me in jail. At the age of 23 years, I am facing sedition charge, either they will hang me or they will put me in jail under life term,” he said.
The Patidar agitation, which began in July 2015, culminated in public demonstrations that led to incidents of violence and arson across the state.
On October 19 that year, Hardik was booked by Gujarat police under sedition charges for allegedly advising Patidar community youth to kill policemen instead of committing suicide.
(With agency inputs)