AHMEDABAD: A faction of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) today launched its 33-day "Shaheed Yatra" (martyrs' march) to pay tribute to the 14 community members killed during its reservation agitation in 2015.
The yatra was launched from Unjha, in Mehsana district, which is the seat of the community's family deity Umiya Mata.
Three chariots carrying busts of the 14 people who were killed, a statue of Sardar Patel and that of Umiya Mata, are part of the yatra that will traverse more than 3,000 kilometres over the next 33 days, organiser Dilip Sabva said.
The yatra will culminate at Khodaldham temple, dedicated to community deity Khodiyar Mata, in Rajkot's Kagvad town on July 28, he said.
The PAAS faction which has organised the yatra has been critical of Hardik Patel, another prominent community leader, and has distanced itself from the PAAS that he represents.
Organisers, however, said they have invited all the members of the community, including Hardik Patel and Lalji Patel, who heads the Sardar Patel group, another organisation representing Patidars, to participate in the yatra.
"We have invited everybody to join us in the yatra which is meant to pay tribute to the fourteen martyrs from our community and renew our demand for reservation. Hardik Patel and Lalji Patel have also been invited as they too represent the community," Sabva said.
He stressed that the programme was not political and was only meant to ensure that sacrifices of these men do not go waste and the demand for reservations is not forgotten.
During the yatra, the organisers will also demand the withdrawal of police cases filed against community members during the 2015 agitation.
Congress MLA from Unjha, Asha Patel, offered support to the yatra by being present during its launch.
"There is no question of politics here. I am here to offer support to the community. I am a daughter of the same community," said Patel.