Patidars postpone ‘reverse Dandi Yatra’ in Gujarat

Ahmedabad, Sep 13 (IANS) In a brief breather for the beleagured Gujarat government, the agitating Patidars Anamat Andolan Samiti has postponed by two days its proposed 390-km long ‘reverse Dandi Yatra’ scheduled to begin from Navsari on Sunday morning.

“We decided to honour the government’s invitation for talks in (state capital) Gandhinagar on Monday evening. However, if the outcome is not satisfactory, the ‘reverse Dandi Yatra’ will be launched on Tuesday,” PAAS state convenor Hardik Patel warned here on Sunday.

The 22-year-old leader said that in the meeting with Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, the first demand would be to seek action and suspension of around 4,200 police personnel allegedly involved in atrocities during the Patidars’ mammoth rally in Ahmedabad on August 25.

“Our first demand will be to seek punishment for those security personnel who caned the Patidars and the police cases lodged against 123 of our activists…. The demand for reservations will be made later,” Hardik Patel said.

He added that the Patidars’ agitation had secured support not only in Gujarat and other states in the country, it had been endorsed by the Patel community settled globally.

“The state government is worried that it will lead to similar protests in at least 14 other countries where the Patels live and work…. This is a marathon and will continue for long,” Hardik Patel said while referring to the invite for talks.

The postponement was effected after state finance minister Saurabh Patel extended an invitation on behalf of the CM late Saturday night, inviting PAAS leaders for talks.

The proposed ‘reverse Dandi March’, from the coastal Dandi fishing village to Sabarmati Ashram in the state’s business capital, Ahmedabad, was expected to attract nearly one million participants as it traversed the 390-km route, according to PAAS Surat convenor Alpesh Patel.

Dandi village shot into global spotlight and made a niche for itself in history when Mahatma Gandhi launched his historic 24-day Dandi Yatra from Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Ashram on March 12, 1930, with around 100,000 people joining en route.

Hardik Patel was planning to re-enact the march after 85 years in the reverse direction in a bid to corner the state government for the largely affluent Patidars’ main demand of caste-based reservation.

This was expected to be the biggest agitation after the August 25 Patidar agitation in Ahmedabad which ended violently with 11 deaths, and compelled the government to deploy the army and paramilitary forces in large numbers.

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