Curfew in Gujarat town, Patel protest turns violent

Ahmedabad, April 17 (IANS) Curfew was imposed in Gujarat’s Mehsana town after pro-reservation Patidars (Patels) turned violent, leading to arson and clashes with police on Sunday.

Authorities suspended internet service in Mehsana after the violence and police and paramilitary forces were deployed in all north Gujarat towns, besides Ahmedabad and Surat, which are known strongholds of the pro-quota Patels.

More than 1,000 agitators from the Patel community in Mehsana and over 500 in Surat were taken into preventive custody as large crowds gathered near the district jails in both places in defiance of prohibitory orders.

Police burst over two dozen teargas shells and used water cannons to disperse the crowds.

Sardar Patel Group (SPG) convener Lalji Patel sustained head injuries as his supporters pelted policemen with stones.

Patel along with his supporters was also taken into preventive custody.

The SPG has given a call for a shutdown in Gujarat on Monday in protest against the police action.

The SPG is a pro-quota group like the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti of Hardik Patel, which has been agitating for over eight months for reservation for the Patels in government jobs and educational institutions under the Other Backward Class category.

Sunday’s ‘jail bharo’ programme was in support of the demand for the release of the jailed Patel leaders and withdrawal of cases against them.

The SPG earlier announced its second round of agitation if its demands were not met by April 17.

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