Posters saying ‘General Dyer Go Back’ have come up in Surat’s Patidar-dominated areas like Varachha on Thursday, hours before BJP chief Amit Shah is to be felicitated by the community’s business lobby.
In other posters, Shah has been accused of abusing Patidar ‘mothers and sisters’ and the 44 Patidar MLAs in the state dubbed as good for nothing.
Hardik Patel, the founder of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) who is leading an agitation to demand reservation in education and government jobs for his community for over a year now, has been addressing Shah as General Dyer after Patidars were charged with batons at the end of a massive rally in Ahmedabad in August 2015.
Colonel Reginald Edward Harry Dyer was a British army official responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in which hundreds of unarmed men, women and children were killed in Amritsar in 1919.
Several men were severely injured in the lathi charge, triggering state-wide riots, killing nine youths and causing damage worth Rs 44 crore to public property.
Patidar Abhivadan Samaroh Samiti (PASS) let by Patidar businessmen, including diamond traders and textile mill owners, will felicitate Shah, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and 43 Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs later in the evening.
The function at the nerve centre of the OBC agitation is being seen as a show of strength by the BJP to counter the agitation led by Patel, who is in a six-month exile in Rajasthan’s Udaipur as per the bail conditions approved by the Gujarat high court in connection with two sedition cases against him.
On Wednesday, the police registered four complaints against the PAAS members for violating the police commissioner’s notification by holding public meetings in residential societies in Surat to plan the boycott of the felicitation function.
In the backdrop of the agitation, the BJP has been struggling to retain its key vote bank of the financially powerful Patidar community a year before the state is set to go for the assembly polls.