Surat (Gujarat), Sep 19 (IANS) Apprehending a potential law and order situation, Surat Police detained Patidars leader Hardik Patel and at least 50 of his supporters when they attempted to launch an ‘Ekta Rally’ here on Saturday morning, officials said.
The rally, which the police claimed as ‘unauthorised’, was to press for the caste-based reservations for the Patel community spearheaded by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS).
PAAS convenor Hardik Patel, 22, and at least 50 others were detained at Mangad Chowk and whisked off in waiting police vans to the police headquarters.
Undeterred by the detentions, the Patels defied the police and took out another rally from Hirabagh locality from where PAAS co-convenor Nikhil Patel was also detained.
Shortly after the detention, Hardik Patel said police were harassing them as they wanted to take out a peaceful rally, and accused the Gujarat government of “harassing everybody”.
“The Gujarat government is provoking violence though ours is a peaceful agitation. We request the people of the state for support. We are not against any community, but just fighting to get reservations for our community,” Patel said.
PAAS termed the detentions as “illegal and bulldozing of democracy by the Gujarat government” which was acting at the centre’s behest.
Saturday’s ‘Ekta Rally’ was thrown a challenge by the opposing OBC Ekta Manch, which threatened to take out a ‘Pratikar Rally’ protesting against the reservations sought by the Patidars.
However, the city administration declined permission to OBC Ekta Manch to hold its rally.
Gujarat went into a state of high alert following the PAAS officials’ detentions.