AHMEDABAD: Amid tight security, the funeral of a 32-year-old man from Patel community, who allegedly died in custody after being caught by police during the quota violence, was held here today.
The funeral procession of Swetang Patel started from his house in Matrushakti Society of Bapunagar area at around 8.25 AM. Initially, around 300 locals and relatives joined the procession, including Swetang's mother Prabhaben and his sister Palak. Before the funeral procession started, former state Home Minister and senior BJP leader Gordhan Jhadafia met Swetang's family at his house and conveyed condolences. Local MLA Vallabh Kakadia along with some leaders and corporators also remained present during the procession.
To avoid any untoward situation, around 600 personnel from local police, State Reserve Police (SRP), Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been stationed along the 1-km route from Swetang's house till the crematorium in Lila Nagar area, Bapunagar police inspector K D Nakum said. Since early morning, senior police officers including Joint Commissioner of Police (JCP) Manoj Shashidharan, Deputy CP Shweta Shrimali and Assistant CP K D Pandya along with their staff arrived at Bapunagar and supervised the arrangements.
Hardik Patel, the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, who earlier said that he will remain present during the last rites of Swetang, did not turn up today as he flew to Delhi this morning. As the procession went ahead, a large number of locals living near the route came on the road to pay homage to the deceased. Some of them also joined the procession, taking the total number to more than 1,000. Since the route passes from NH-8 at Thakkarnagar area, police stopped the traffic for around 20 minutes.
"The procession reached peacefully at the crematorium without any untoward incident. We have not imposed any curfew in that area. Locals have also cooperated and refrained from shouting any inflammatory slogans," said Nakum. Since Swetang was the only son of Prabhaben, his sister Palak performed the last rites by lighting his funeral pyre. Talking to mediapersons after the rituals, Prabhaben vowed to fight for justice.
"I demand suspension of all the responsible police officers. They must be given life imprisonment for killing my son. I will fight till the end to get justice," she said. When asked if the family received any assurance from the government, Palak said no one has approached them yet. "We are not given any assurance of any kind from the government yet. No one from the government has approached us," she said.
Swetang was allegedly taken away forcibly by police on August 25 during violence in Patel community's agitation demanding reservation under OBC category. A plea was moved by Prabhaben Patel in the Gujarat High Court which said he was allegedly beaten by the police and ultimately he succumbed to the injuries. After the postmortem, the High Court had ordered a second autopsy of the body which stated that he had died due to severe head injury.
Observing that prima facie it was a case of homicide, the HC had on Friday directed the administration to file an FIR and also ordered a CID probe into Swetang's death. Last night, the High Court allowed the administration to take all necessary steps, including imposition of curfew, to maintain law and order during today's funeral procession, as the city police feared violence. However, police did not clamp curfew as the funeral procession went off without any untoward incident.