Patel leader Hardik detained; released following backlash

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Ahmedabad, Aug 25: Hardik Patel, the 22-year-old leader of the Patel community who today warned the BJP government in Gujarat that "lotus will not bloom" next time unless their demand for reservations was met, was tonight briefly detained and later released by police as violence erupted across the city.

Speaking at a mega rally of the community here earlier in the day, Hardik warned the state government that "lotus" (the BJP symbol) will not bloom in 2017 assembly elections if their demand of inclusion in the OBC quota was not met.

Patel leader Hardik detained

A large contingent of police stormed the GMDC ground here to disperse the crowd supporting Patel and three others who sat on a hunger strike after the massive rally, demanding that Chief Minister Anandiben Patel herself should come there and accept their memorandum.

Police took away Hardik and his supporters after lathi-charging his over 2,000 supporters. Mediapersons were also injured in the police action in which their equipment was damaged.

But the young leader's detention late in the evening led to an immediate backlash, as protesters gathered in large numbers at various cross-roads and attacked the police, pelted stones and set on fire public properties including buses at two places.

Protesters also tried to torch the house of Gujarat minister of state of home Rajni Patel in Mehsana, police said, adding that the fire did not cause much damage. Hardik was hastily released by the police seeing the mood of the community members.

He has emerged as the powerful face of a massive campaign of the affluent and influential Patels or Patedars who are demanding reservation in government jobs and colleges The Patels have for decades been loyal supporters of the BJP.

Chief Minister Anandiben has said they cannot be added to the list of castes entitled to quotas because Gujarat has hit the cap of 50 per cent reservation ordered by the Supreme Court.

PTI 

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