NEW DELHI: The Army was called in on Wednesday to help control violence sparked by the quota agitation by the Patel community in Gujarat which claimed seven lives even as curfew was clamped in several areas.
Five columns of Army, comprising about 200 jawans, have been deployed in Ahmedabad while paramilitary forces rushed by the Centre will be deployed in Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Patan and Mehsana district. Curfew was clamped in Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Surat by the administration. Over 100 buses and property worth crores were torched by angry protesters on Tuesday night after clashes with police. However, a State bureaucrat who spoke to Express said the situation is peaceful in Ahmedabad except nine localities, including Ramol, Bapu Nagar, Naroda and Krishna Nagar, where curfew was in force. The official said Army flag march was conducted in several areas of Ahmedabad, including Sardar Chowk, Chandkheda, RTO Circle, Vastral Circle and Thakkarbapa Nagar, to control the situation.
Sources said five persons were killed in Ahmedabad on Tuesday night in alleged police firing and two were killed in Palanpur, which falls under Banaskantha district. Protest leader Hardik Patel has given a 36 hours ultimatum to the State to take action against the policemen who beat up protestors on Tuesday night.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stepped in and appealed for calm in the State he had managed for 13 years as Chief Minister. Modi issued a video message for the people of Gujarat to maintain peace and resolve matters through talks.
With pictures of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel in the background, Modi spoke in Gujarati. “Since yesterday, the type of atmosphere that is building up in the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the manner in which violence is being used as a tool... We all know that violence serves no purpose. We have always believed that development of the State is possible only if we all walk together and stay united,” he said. “It is my appeal to my brothers and sisters that the occasion calls for a single mantra — peace. Each and every issue can be resolved through talks,” he added.
As Gujarat CM, Modi had an iron grip over the administration. Even now, any violence in the State would point criticism in his direction as the current CM is his loyalist, and the State is ruled by his party. So, the Centre was prompt in extending all help. “We all should follow the spirit of democracy. We must work together to solve problems through talks and to contribute in efforts to take Gujarat to new heights. This is my humble request to all the brothers and sisters of Gujarat,” Modi said.