AHMEDABAD: Tension mounted in Gujarat as three persons were killed in widespread violence sparked by detention of Hardik Patel who today vowed to intensify the agitation for OBC quota for Patel community.
Apprehending more trouble, curfew was clamped in parts of Ahmedabad and other major cities across the state today. Apart from Ahmedabad, curfew had been clamped in Surat, Mehsana, Rajkot, Jamnagnar and Patan cities. Fresh violence broke out during the day-long bandh called by the Patel outfit demanding OBC quota for the community in Gujarat, a day after the mega rally here.
In a televised address in Gujrati, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm and emphasised that all issues can be resolved through talks. "In the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the way violence has been resorted to as a tool....I appeal to all brothers and sisters of Gujarat that they should not resort to violence. The only 'Mantra' must be 'Shanti' (peace)," said Modi, who has been Chief Minister of the state for 12 years.
About 5,000 paramilitary personnel were today rushed to Gujarat in the wake of violence. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel this morning and assured her of full central help to tackle the situation. Hardik blamed police for the violence and said the agitation will intensify in the coming days.
Rejecting suggestions that the protesters started the violence last night, he accused the police of trying to "disrupt" the "movement" at the behest of the political establishment. "Police have recovered bodies of three persons who were suspected to have been killed in violence spread across the city," police spokesman N D Trivedi said. According to a senior police official, two persons died in police firing in Vastral area, while body of a man was found in Ghatlodia in the city.
"Girish Patel (47) and his son Siddharth Patel (20) were killed in police firing late last night," he said. "The incident took place when a mob tried to snatch the weapons of police. These two had tried to snatch a rifle of a policemen and during the scuffle it went off causing the the casualties," he claimed.
In Ghatlodia, police recovered the body of a man who died due to severe head injury. The deceased is believed to have been beaten up in the clash last night, police said. Normal life was paralysed as schools,colleges, business establishments including banks and public transport remained closed in most places in view of the bandh call given by 22-year-old Hardik after his brief detention yesterday when he was protesting for quota at the GMDC ground here.
Incidents of arson and stone-pelting were reported in many parts of Surat city today, when Patel community members came out in large numbers to "enforce" the bandh. Widespread violence erupted across the state yesterday after Hardik was detained by the city police. He was later let off.
City Police Commissioner Shivanand Jha has clamped curfew in nine areas including Nikol, Bapunagar, Ramol, Odhav, Naroda, Narayanpura, Krishnanagar, Ghatlodia and Vadaj after following sporadic incidents of violence. Jha said the situation in areas where curfew has been clamped is under close watch of police. A mob of around 1,000 people burnt two warehouses of
Surat Municipal Corporation in Udhna area of the city. Bikes, buses and vehicles were torched at many places in the city, Surat control room police officials said.
The diamond and textile industries of Surat remained closed. Centre has rushed about 5,000 personnel of Rapid Action Force, CRPF and BSF to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order. "Extra state reserve police force (SRP) companies have been deployed in the city to bring the situation under control, while we have also sought deployment of central forces. They will be deployed as and when their companies arrive here," Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said.
A Police Sub-Inspector, identified as Mitesh Salunke, was severely injured, when a mob pelted stones in Lalgate area of the city during the violence last night. In Saurashtra region, there was total bandh in major cities and towns of Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Porbandar. Incidents of sporadic violence were reported in all the four districts during the bandh today, police said.
Rajkot Superintendent of Police (Rural) Gagandeep Gambhir was injured in stone-throwing near Upleta road area, a police official said. In Ahmedabad, schools, colleges, city bus service, business establishments including banks remained closed today. Most of the roads of the city wore a deserted look after last night's violence.
Bandh was observed in most of the cities in North Gujarat, while in Central Gujarat, including Vadodara, the bandh call evoked a mixed response. The bandh got a mixed response in Anand town too. Police said members of Patel community indulged in arson and stone-pelting and vandalised public property last night after the detention of Hardik.
More than 50 incidents of violence were reported from Ahmedabad city where buses, police posts and private vehicles were set on fire while police personnel were also attacked at some places. The violence also spread to other parts of the state like Mehsana, Rajkot and Surat. Similar incidents were also reported from remote areas of Saurashtra region.
Meanwhile, apart from Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehsana, curfew has also been clamped in Rajkot, Jamnagar and Patan districts. "Curfew has been imposed in Rajkot city to check the spread of violence," a notification issued by Rajkot Police Commissioner Mohan Jha said. Rampaging mobs last night damaged bus stations, set afire vehicles and also attacked offices of Union Minister of State for Agriculture Mohan Kundaria in Rajkot.
Patan district SP Ashwin Chauhan told PTI that they have imposed curfew in Patan town as it was becoming difficult to control the rioters. Curfew has also been imposed in Jamnagar city. "We had to impose curfew as the situation was getting out of hand," Jamnagar district SP Pradeep Sejul said.