Patel quota protests: Gujarat bandh today, public buses off road

  • Hiral Dave, Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Apr 18, 2016 15:27 IST
Police take charge on members of Patidar community during their "Jail Bharo Andolan" for demanding release of Hardik Patel in Mahesana on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

The administration on Monday lifted the curfew in Mehsana, which witnessed clashes between Patidars and police personnel the previous day, amid calls for a Gujarat bandh by leaders of the agitating community.

However, transport services across the state were crippled after the government stopped buses from plying on several routes – especially those passing through Patidar-dominated areas. Four buses were damaged by rampaging Patidar mobs since Sunday.

Also, the ban on mobile internet services in five districts – Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Mehsana and Banaskantha – remained in place.

Even as chief minister Anandiben Patel appealed for peace in a tweet, the bandh call sounded by the Sardar Patel Group (SPG) and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) – two outfits that are leading the Patidar quota movement – evoked a mixed response on Monday morning.

Live updates

3pm: Lalji Tandon, booked for conspiracy and attempt to murder, is likely to be arrested once he is discharged.

2.45pm: SPG Chief Lalji Patel has been put under police watch at a hospital in Mehsana, where he is undergoing treatment for head injuries.

2.30pm: Mobs are out to forcefully impose bandh in parts of North Gujarat, Ahmedabad and Saurashtra.

1pm: Uncertainty prevails over venue of crucial meeting between Patidar leaders and the government. No final decision taken whether it will be held at the secretariat in Gandhinagar or at the residence of health minister Nitin Patel, who heads special committee to resolve quota issue.

12.30pm: In-charge DGP PP Pandey has made an appeal to the public to send photos and videos of miscreants, so that action can be taken against them. Pandey said that investigation will be done into Sunday incident that led to clash between Patidars and police, leaving 30 injured.

12 noon: Minister of state for home Rajnikant Patel said that atmosphere in the state is peaceful.

11.45am: Teams of State Reserve Police and Rapid Action Force deployed across Gujarat

11.30am: Bhavin Khunt, a young member of SPG in Surat died this morning. The family claimed he consumed poisonous substance on Sunday to protest police lathicharge in which SPG chief lalji Patel was injured.

11am: Amidst heavy police deployment, chief minister Anandiben Patel reached Rajkot district for a government function.

10.45am: Lalji, mentor of jailed OBC quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, was among those injured in the clash at Mehsana. The incident occurred when police tried to prevent around 25,000 agitators from proceeding to the local sub-jail to court arrest in solidarity with Hardik and his colleagues.

10.30am: Public bus service crippled across state with government suspending several routes, especially in the Paridar dominated area. Since Sunday four buses have been damaged by the mob.

10am: Hardik Patel, OBC quota stir leader, will not be brought by the police to Ahmedabad for a court hearing by the in wake of prevailing tension due to Gujarat bandh. He has been lodge in Rajpore central jail in Surat with sedition charge.

Although examinations in some educational institutions – including the Hem Chandra University – were postponed, the bandh largely failed to disrupt the state’s academic scenario. Most business establishments and commercial ventures continued to function even in Patel-dominated pockets of Gujarat, such as Surat, Mehsana, Ahmedabad and Rajkot.

Ahead of a crucial afternoon meeting between Patidars and a government panel to end the deadlock over the quota row, the authorities also booked several leaders of the agitating groups – including SPG head Lalji Patel – for conspiracy and attempted murder, among other charges.

Read: Patel quota stir: Curfew in Mehsana, protesters call for shutdown

Bhavin Khunt, a young member of the SPG, reportedly died in Surat on Monday morning. Khunt’s family said he had consumed poison on Sunday to protest the lathi-charge carried out against Lalji and his supporters.

While both PAAS and SPG have decided to boycott the meeting, a group of community elders – including top businessmen and industrialists – are expected to negotiate with the ministerial committee headed by health minister Nitin Patel. Sources said the government is likely to announce several measures to pacify the agitating community at the meeting.

Taking the prevailing commotion into account, police decided against producing Hardik before an Ahmedabad court on Monday. The firebrand Patidar leader is currently confined at the Rajpore Central Jail on sedition charges.

Read: Clashes at Patel protest for Hardik’s release, curfew imposed

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