Written byAnjana Raghav
Patidar leader Hardik Patel began an indefinite fast at his sprawling farmhouse in Gujarat's Ahmedabad today to press for quota for the community after the Gujarat government refused permission for various protest venues he had sought.
The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader began the fast at 3 pm in the presence of his supporters and several Congress MLAs after a pooja at his farmhouse.
Congress MLAs Lalit Vasoya from Dhoraji constituency, Asha Patel from Unjha, Brijesh Merja from Morbi, and Kirit Patel from Patan were present at Patel's farmhouse. Vasoya, a Patidar, said he, along with other Congress MLAs, would sit on a symbolic fast from tomorrow.
Patel alleged that the BJP government had denied permission as it was trying to thwart his agitation.
"Today is the third anniversary of the Patidar agitation. Two months ago, we had sought permission to stage protest in the form of an indefinite fast. But we were not granted permission and therefore, we decided to hold it at my residence," Patel said.
"As you all know, widespread violence by anti-social elements was reported on August 25, 2015, after the PAAS was given permission to take out a rally," Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) RB Bhrambhatt said. "We have denied permission after due diligence," he added.
Patel alleged that the police had detained 16,000 of his supporters and set up barricades and blockades on the highways leading to Ahmedabad to stall others from joining his fast.
However, Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) RB Bhrambhatt put the number of people detained at 158.
Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said, meanwhile, alleged that Patel's protest was sponsored by the Congress.
"This hunger strike is not a one-day affair. Thousands across the state would sit on fast and it will continue for days. I have also invited people to come to my house to join me in the fast," Hardik Patel had said.
Earlier this month, Patel had announced that he would sit on an indefinite hunger strike from August 25 at a ground in the Nikol area.
After being denied permission for the Nikol venue since it is a parking lot now, Patel had approached the Gandhinagar Collector, seeking Satyagrah Chhavni as an alternate spot for the fast. This too was rejected by the authorities.
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