BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh police this morning arrested Gujarat Patidar leader Hardik Patel to stop him from reaching Mandsaur, where an agitation by farmers led to the killing of six cultivators last week.
Patel set out for Mandsaur with a large cavalcade of supporters but was stopped and arrested with six others at Nayagaon in Neemuch district, the very place where Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was thwarted last week.
The group was subsequently released on bail and set free on the Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan border.
Hardik Patel is a leader of the Patidar agitation in Gujarat, and four of the six farmers killed in Madhya Pradesh belonged to that social group. The Madhya Pradesh police are apprehensive that Hardik patel’s involvement in the farmers agitation is likely to fuel the unrest.
The 24-year-old agitator from Gujarat was accompanied on his aborted visit by a local Congress leader, Satyanarayan Patidar. The group was stopped at Nayagaon, the very place where Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was stopped from going to Mandsaur last week.
Hardik Patel said his arrest was unwarranted: "I am not a terrorist. I have not come from Lahore. I am an Indian citizen and have the right to go anywhere in the country."
The Gujarat leader blamed Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and criticised the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre for the plight of farmers in the country. He said 50 crore farmers have come together against the saffron party. "If the atrocities with farmers continue, the days are not far away when those in power will be overthrown," said Patel.
He said he was fighting for the cause of all farmers and not just Patidars.
The Congress's chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Jyotiraditya Scindia too is slated to go to Mandsaur to meet the bereaved families of farmers, but he too is likely to be stopped from going to Mandsaur on the Ratlam-Mandsaur border.