Curfew in Mehsana after violent Patel stir; protesters call for shutdown


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home district in Gujarat was brought under curfew and internet services suspended on Sunday after more than two dozen people were wounded as Patidar pro-reservation campaigners clashed with police, demanding jailed leader Hardik Patel’s release.

Violence revisited Mehsana , which is chief minister Anandiben Patel’s home district too, when thousands of members of the Patidar or Patel community took out a rally against 22-year-old Hardik’s detention since October on charges of rioting and sedition.

The district is the epicentre of the economically and politically influential Patels’ movement for reservation in education and government jobs, which they have been demanding since July 2015.

The protesters under the banner of the Hardik-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti and Sardar Patel Group called a statewide bandh on Monday after police charged them with sticks, fired tear gas shells and used water cannons.

Angry protesters reportedly threw stones at police and set ablaze an unspecified numbers of buildings and vehicles when authorities stopped them on the way to prison where they wanted to court arrest as part of their “jail bharo” programme.

Offices of ministers Nitin Patel and Rajnikant Patel were ransacked, a bus was set ablaze and police vehicles were damaged by the mob. Mobile internet services were blocked in Mehsana, Surat, Rajkot and Ahmedabad districts till April 19.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief minister Anandiben, who informed him about the situation in the BJP-ruled state.

But at a function in Dharmpur, she said: “Such agitations keep happening. Our work is to serve the people.”

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