AHMEDABAD: Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel, who went missing last night and alleged he was abducted by some unknown persons, will go to Gujarat High Court tomorrow morning, his lawyer said.
After Hardik went missing from Aravali district yesterday, his aides moved a habeas corpus plea through his lawyer, BM Mangukiya, in Gujarat High Court in the wee hours today alleging that police had illegally detained him. In a hearing at a judge's house that ended at 2.40 AM, high court directed the state government to find Hardik and file a reply by tomorrow, that is, September 24.
Even as police claimed that they could not locate him, Hardik himself called his aides in the morning and said he had been abducted by unknown persons last night and later released on the highway near Dhrangadhra town of Surendranagar district. Advocate Mangukiya then went to the said town and returned here tonight with Hardik. Speaking to the media, Mangukiya, accompanied by Hardik, said, "Habeas corpus means someone is confined against his will and there is a threat to his life.
Now, as Hardik is found, this is not a case of habeas corpus anymore. "This is a clear-cut case of abduction. It is a matter of investigation whether it was done by the police or someone at their behest," Mangukia said. "We will produce Hardik in high court tomorrow," he added. Asked if he will seek an inquiry, Mangukia said a complaint of abduction would certainly be filed.
The lawyer said that Hardik can recognise the faces of those who allegedly abducted and confined him. Mangukiya added that, according to the 22-year-old Hardik, they looked like police officials. Asked if Hardik had noted the registration number of the car, Mangukia said he had failed to do so. Hardik had organised a public meeting in Bayad tehsil of Aravali district allegedly without prior permission. After the meeting, police tried to detain him, but according to IG Hasmukh Patel, he managed to give them the slip.
Police later registered an FIR against Hardik and 20 others for violating prohibitory orders. Talking about his alleged abduction, Hardik said, "Some persons chased my car near Bayad... I was picked up by some persons... after that I was made to sit in a car for the entire night. I was threatened to quit this agitation or else I would be eliminated. The person threatened me saying that it is the first and last warning, and if I am ever seen addressing a public meeting in a village, I will be eliminated.
"After threatening me for entire night and ferrying me from Bayad, he left me at a village in Dhrangdhara taluka of Surendranagar," Hardik told reporters, adding that the person was carrying a revolver. The Gujarat government, meanwhile, denied allegations that Hardik, who is leading the agitation for inclusion of the Patel community in OBC category for reservations, was abducted by police.
"Police had tried to arrest Hardik after he held a meeting yesterday without prior permission. But police said yesterday they could not catch him and he himself went away somewhere," minister of state for home Rajni Patel said today. Asked if Hardik will be arrested, the minister said, "Action will be taken against him as per the law."
Saying that police had initiated action against other leaders, including Alpesh Thakor of OBC Ekta Manch, for holding rallies without prior permission from authorities, the minister said that the government's priority was to maintain peace.
Meanwhile, in the first such action since the Patel quota stir began, Gujarat police today slapped charges of sedition against Hardik's close aide Nilesh Advadiaya for allegedly circulating derogatory statements about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and BJP chief Amit Shah. Police at Morbi in the Saurashtra region registered a case of sedition against Advadiaya, who is in the custody of Ahmedabad police since yesterday.