Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel surfaced on Wednesday a day after his mysterious disappearance and claimed that he was “abducted” by unknown people with weapons.
Hardik claimed that his unidentified abductors threatened to eliminate him if he did not abandon his agitation for reservation quotas which has thrown a challenge to the BJP government in Gujarat.
Hours after the state high court in a dramatic post-midnight hearing directed the state government to locate him, Hardik got in touch with Patel leaders and asked them to pick him up from the highway passing from Dhrangadhra town in Surendranagar district.
“Some persons chased my car near Bayad (in Aravalli district)... then I was picked up by some persons.. after that I was made to sit in a car for the entire night,” Hardik told reporters.
“I was threatened to leave this agitation or I would be eliminated. The person threatened me saying that it is the first and last warning, and if I am ever seen addressing a public meeting in a village, I will be eliminated,” he claimed.
“After threatening me for entire night and ferrying me from Bayad, he left me at a village in Dhrangdhara taluka of Surendranagar,” Hardik said.
“I do not know who was he, whether a policeman or anyone else but he had a revolver with him,” he claimed.
“I wanted to know about the person and at whose behest he had kept me under his custody for the entire night,” he said.
Gandhinagar Range IG Hasmukh Patel earlier said they could not locate him but if he is found, then he will be produced before court.
In a rare post-midnight hearing that went on till 2.40 am, the High Court directed the state government to find Hardik after an aide moved a habeas corpus petition alleging that the young leader had been illegally detained by police.
However, police had maintained that he was not detained by them.
A division bench comprising justices M R Shah and KJ Thaker heard the petition at 1.20 AM with Hardik’s aide Dinesh Patel seeking court’s intervention to direct authorities to produce Hardik.
The court issued notice to the Gujarat government, director general of police, Range Inspector General and Aravalli District Superintendent of Police directing them to file their reply.
Public prosecutor Mitesh Amin said Hardik is not in police custody. However, the high court asked the state government to find Hardik saying “he is a citizen of the country”. The hearing conducted at the residence of one of the two judges concluded at 2.40am.
The petitioner submitted that he was with Hardik when the police tried to detain him. He alleged that Hardik must have been in police custody.
Hardik had on Tuesday organised a public meeting in Bayad taluka of Aravali district allegedly without prior permission. After the meeting, police tried to detain him but according to IG Hasmukh Patel he managed to evade them.
Police later registered an FIR against Hardik and 20 others for violating prohibitory orders.
Read: In post-midnight notice, Gujarat HC asks govt to ‘find’ Hardik