The Gujarat high court on Tuesday turned down a petition to quash sedition charges against Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, even as his three supporters threatened to set themselves on fire if he is not set free by October 29.
Justice JB Pardiwala earlier in the day rejected the plea filed on October 20 by Hardik Patel’s father Bharat Patel, a BJP activist, days after Hardik’s five-day police remand in Surat.
Simultaneously, three youngsters from the Patidar community - one word for the Kadwa and the Leuva Patels - threatened to immolate themselves in front of the state legislative assembly if the government did not let off Hardik Patel by Thursday.
Bharat Patel, Vijay Patel and Pratik Patel from Tenpur village of Aravalli district in north Gujarat submitted a memorandum to an official, warning the state government that if the sedition charges against Hardik Patel were not dropped, they would set themselves on fire before the state assembly building in Gandhinagar. They said the ruling party would be responsible for it.
While a metropolitan court in Surat rejected a plea for his further remand, Hardik Patel found himself in the Ahmedabad Crime Branch police office yet again on sedition charge.
The sedition charge was slapped against Hardik Patel, 22, last week after he advised a Surat youth, Vipul Desai, not to think of committing suicide but show courage to kill a policeman or two.
Desai had announced that he would commit suicide to press the demand for reservation for the Patels under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category in government jobs and educational institutions.
Hardik Patel had called on Desai on October 3 when he took a TV channel reporter with him. Once the channel aired his remark, it went viral on the social media.
The Crime Branch in Ahmedabad claimed it has telephone call records of conversations between the PAAS leaders and their supporters, and these show Hardik Patel and his associates allegedly inciting youngsters to resort to violence against police and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
It was on this basis that the sedition charges were slapped against the agitators in Ahmedabad, police said.
Meanwhile, the Crime Branch has suspended a police constable and a computer operator for taking selfie pictures with Hardik Patel after the photograph went viral on social network.
Tenpur, where the three youngsters have threatened to immolate themselves, is the same village from where Hardik had reportedly disappeared last month and surfaced the next afternoon. He claimed he was kidnapped by some policemen in plainclothes and was threatened at gun-point if he did not suspend his agitation.
The Gujarat High Court, which heard a habeas corpus petition the night Hardik Patel disappeared, has now asked him to submit an affidavit giving the exact chronology and other details to substantiate his allegation of having been abducted by some people resembling policemen.
Earlier, the high court had pulled up Patel and his lawyer B.M. Mangukiya of staging a fake kidnap drama since he had appeared before a local Gujarati TV channel while the habeas corpus petition was pending.