NEW DELHI: Is it a simple reservation war in Gujarat which resulted in violent clashes and death of seven people on Wednesday? The Centre, which rushed five columns of Army and 5,000 paramilitary jawans to the State, doesn’t think so. It smelt a rat in the agitation of the Patel community seeking reservation under the OBC quota that turned violent on Tuesday after the detention of Hardik Patel who is leading the stir. Kiren Rijiju, MoS, Home Affairs, voicing concern over the violent agitation made it clear that the movement is not as simple as it appears.
“Maybe some people are instigating from behind to disturb law and order in the State,” Rijiju said, adding that clashes between protestors and police were unexpected but provisions have been made to deal with the miscreants even as curfew was imposed in several areas.
The Centre’s suspicion about the ongoing stir was strengthened after an intelligence report provided details about Hardik Patel and various rallies organised by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti in the last two months. Hardik, 21, a businessman, is known for leading a brash life and his photos brandishing revolvers and rifles, which is part of the report, says it all. The report claims rallies in small towns and villages had been gathering momentum for some time but received an impetus in the last 2-3 weeks. The intelligence input also alerted about possible counter-rallies by other OBCs opposing Hardik’s demand.
Sources said quota stirs are not new to Gujarat and the State witnessed violence during the Patels’ 1981 and 1985 anti-reservation protests but there appears to be covert political support behind such a huge agitation this time and it won’t be a surprise if detractors of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who called for peace, are found to be the prime suspects. Rijiju said Tuesday’s arson, triggered due to Hardik’s detention, inflicted heavy damage to the business-friendly, peaceful image of the State created by Modi. “More than reservation, destabilising the situation appears to be the real motive and it is not limited to Gujarat,” he added.