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As it happened: Hardik Patel released from jail, gets hero’s welcome

Hundreds of people started to pour into Surat on Friday morning as crowds gathered outside the Lajpore Central Jail, where Patidar protest leader Hardik Patel is set to walk out before noon after nine months behind bars.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2016 16:29 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times
Hardik Patel,Patel agitation,Gujarat quota agitation
Hardik Patel was released from Lajpore Central Jail in Surat.(Siddharaj Solanki /HT Photo)

Hundreds of people reached Surat on Friday morning as crowds gathered outside the Lajpore Central Jail, from where Patidar protest leader Hardik Patel walked out before noon after nine months behind bars.

Facing sedition charges, Hardik left for six months exile outside Gujarat within 48 hours of his release, according to his bail conditions.Eleven girls from different communities welcomed him with a tilak ceremony.

12:25pm: Hardik to stay at Shrinathnagar in Udaipur during six-month exile from July 17. He will stay at the home of former Congress MLA Pushkarlal Patel. Hardik says after nine months in jail, his attitude and mannerism remain the same.

11:25am: Agitation is not owned by a political party, says Hardik after being released from jail.

Don’t need a 56-inch chest, all I want is rights for my community, he says.

My work is to work for poor farmers and women of the country, says Hardik.

11:10am: Hardik Patel released from jail.

9:30am: A chained farmer, a man dressed in Shivaji attire and youngsters in white-caps were among the first supporters to arrive outside jail gates.

“This is how Hardik was dressed when arrested from Rajkot in October 2015. This symbolizes the farmer. And, the farmer is in bondage,” said the youth who was dressed in white kurta-pyjama and chained with heavy metal cuffs at both hands, legs and even neck. Hardik is expected to walk out in a similar attire.

A relatively unknown figure outside the state, Hardik shot to prominence a year ago as the leader of statewide demonstrations by the influential Patidar community for quotas in jobs and education.

9am: The traffic began building up on the roads connecting Udhna gate. The Patidars from Saurashtra, North and Central Gujarat had started arriving.

On the eve of his release, in a letter from jail addressing his community Hardik appealed to maintained peace and calm. Hardik, who is facing nine cases including rioting and sedition, might get again in trouble in case of any untoward incident.

The Patidar Ananmant Anadolan Samity(PAAS), will soon take out a rally from prison till Varaccha, covering length and breadth of Surat city. The road show was given permission late on Thursday evening. A permission to hold a public meeting at Varaccha, however, has been denied.

The Gujarat Road State Transport cancelled the Varaccha route today and diverted entire traffic of public transport through Olpad. As many as 30 buses were torched by rioters during the Patidar agitation last year in this area.

First Published: Jul 15, 2016 10:06 IST