Gujarat near normal, toll rises to 10

Ahmedabad, Aug 28 (IANS) Soldiers and paramilitary forces remained deployed in Gujarat, where the situation was near normal on Friday even as the death of a policemen took the toll in violence to 10.

Curfew has been lifted in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Mehsana, Palanpur, Jamnagar, Visnagar and Unjha, which bore the brunt of violence in the wake of the Patidars’ agitation demanding caste-based reservation in education and employment.

The army, paramilitary forces and Gujarat Police kept a close watch as people trooped out for work and shopping for Saturday’s Raksha Bandhan festival.

Director General of Police P.C. Thakur told media persons that the deployment of the army and other security forces will continue for some more time.

Government offices and private establishments opened on Friday. Shops and commercial enterprises reported bustling business for Raksha Bandhan and Janmashthami festival next week.

However, most schools and colleges across the state remained closed as a precaution. They will reopen on Monday, an official said.

Although public transport system was near normal, there were delays and overcrowding on account of the damage to hundreds of government and private buses.

The Gujarat State Road Transport Corp, which was badly hit, is likely to normalise operations only by Sunday.

There were 15 cancellations of some intra-state and inter-state train services as tracks were damaged by rioters. They are now being repaired.

Patidars Anamat Andolan Samiti convenor Hardik Patel remained vociferous in his demand for caste-based reservation to the Patel community and has threatened to intensify the agitation.

The two-month-long agitation has posed a major challenge to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel’s government as the 22-year old Hardik Patel has threatened to derail the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2017 election.

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