AHMEDABAD: The opposition Congress today alleged that the BJP government in Gujarat "misused" the state machinery to influence the outcome of the Visnagar rioting case, in which Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and two of his aides were sentenced to two years jail by a court.
Hardik, along with Patidar leaders Lalji Patel and A K Patel, were today sentenced by a Gujarat court to two years jail in a case of rioting and arson in Visnagar town in July 2015. The court later granted bail to them.
Reacting to the court order, state Congress chief Amit Chavda said the BJP government was trying to "suppress" the voice of the youth who are fighting for the rights of their community so they do not dare to stand against the government.
"The dictatorial BJP government committed atrocities against the youths fighting for their community by slapping false cases on them in an attempt to suppress their voice," Chavda told reporters.
"Judiciary is supreme, and I am not here to comment on the order. But to suppress the voice of the agitators, the government produced false evidences and misused the government machinery to influence the outcome of the case. Everybody has faith in judiciary. When the matter goes to the higher court, things will become clear," he said.
Chavda also pointed out that ahead of the last year's state polls, the government had promised to withdraw the cases against the Patidar community members.
"The government had said that cases against Patidar agitators will be withdrawn. Now that the elections are over, the BJP government is trying to suppress the voice so that the agitators do not fight for their rights," he said.
Reacting to the court judgement, the ruling BJP said the identity of Gujarat as a state believing in "non-violence, love and peace" should not be disturbed.
State BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said, "Gujarat believes in non-violence, love and peace. This identity of Gujarat should not be disturbed."
Dilip Sabva, a member of Hardik's team said the court verdict has "exposed" the state government's claims regarding withdrawal of cases related to the Patidar agitation.
"The court's order has exposed the state government's
claims that it has withdrawn cases related to the quota agitation. But so far no case has been withdrawn," he said.
In the run up to the 2017 polls, the state government had said that it would withdraw cases filed against most of the individuals from the community related to the 2015 quota agitation. It had later claimed that 109 cases have been withdrawn, and assured to withdraw another 136 cases.
Visnagar MLA Rushikesh Patel, whose office was vandalised during the 2015 rioting, said the court's judgement is based on the evidences, including witnesses' accounts, and hence cannot be questioned.
"Any judgement is based on various facts, including
the evidences and witnesses' accounts. We cannot question a court's judgement. Whatever decision it took is right," he said.
Congress MLA Lalit Vasoya, former member of Hardik
Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), said the court order will be challenged in the high court. He also appealed to the youth of the Patidar community to maintain peace.
"We accept the order. We will appeal against the order in the high court. I also appeal to the Patidar youths in the state not to take any steps that could affect the outcome of the case," he said.
Visnagar Sessions Court Judge V P Agarwal today held
Hardik Patel and his aides guilty under the Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to rioting, arson, damage to property and unlawful assembly and sentenced them to two years imprisonment. They were later granted bail by the same court.
Hardik has been leading an agitation for reservation to the members of his Patidar community in government jobs and educational institutes. He has been booked in several cases including that of sedition.