MEHSANA: Curfew was on Sunday clamped in Mehsana town in Gujarat and mobile internet service banned as a massive rally of the Patel com¬munity demanding reserva¬tion and immediate release of their jailed leaders turned violent with two buildings be-ing set ablaze and some police vehicles damaged.
“We have imposed a cur¬few in Mehsana town till tomorrow morning. Mobile internet service has been suspended during this period. The violent mob set ablaze two govern¬ment properties….a sub-divisional mag¬istrate and a mam¬latdar (revenue of¬ficer) were injured in the stone-pelt¬ing,” said Lochan Sehra, Collector of Mehsana, 73 km from Ahmedabad.
A godown of Food Corpora¬tion of India and a district of¬fice were set on fire, police said, adding 15 persons have been de-tained in this connection.
Five policemen and two of¬ficials sustained injuries in the incidents, police said while agi¬tators claimed that 25 of their supporters were injured in po¬lice action.
In Surat, police detained 435 Patel agitators who hit the streets after learning about incidents in Mehsana. Surat police commissioner Ashish Bhatia said the situation was under control.
Mobile internet services were banned also in Surat and Rajkot as a precautionary meas¬ure, district authorities said.
In Mehsana, police used lathicharge and fired tear¬gas shells on the agitators who allegedly engaged in stone- pelting.
Patel protesters had gath¬ered at Modhera crossroad as part of the `Jail Bharo’ agitation announced by the Sardar Patel Group (SPG), one of the promi¬nent groups seeking OBC quota for the Patel community.
SPG chief Lalji Patel re¬ceived head injury during the face-off with the police.
A blame game erupted with police claiming they resorted to lathicharge only after some started hurling stones at them while Patel alleged that agita¬tors were targeted without any provocation.
“Our protest was peaceful as announced earlier. Howev¬er, police suddenly hit me and some of our members when we were walking ahead of the pro¬cession. I was hit on head. You can see the blood on my face. We were beaten up without any provocation,” said Patel, who along with some other agitators were detained by the police.
In-charge DGP of Gujarat P P Pandey claimed the situation deteriorated only after some people resorted to violence.
“Police always work to estab¬lish peace. The gathering was peaceful initially. However, the situation deteriorated only after some persons resorted to vio¬lence and damaged property,” Pandey said.
Meanwhile, SPG as well as Hardik Patel-led Patidar Ana¬mat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) have given a call for `Gujarat Bandh’ tomorrow.
“Our Patel brothers were brutally beaten up during the peaceful rally today. Lalji and few other SPG leaders received grievous injuries in the police lathicharge. We condemn this use of excessive force by police and have given a call for Guja¬rat bandh tomorrow,” said SPG spokesperson Purvin Patel, adding that PAAS too supported tomorrow’s bandh.