Army called in after violence over reservation claims 5 lives in Gujarat
Major Gujarat cities put under curfew
Government blocks mobile internet services as precautionary measure
Ahmedabad: Army was called in today to help control widespread violence sparked by quota agitation by Patel community in Gujarat which has claimed five lives even as curfew was clamped in major cities and towns in the state.
Yesterday, 21 year old Hardik Patel, who was seen as the voice behind the Patel community reservation movement was taken into custody after which incidents of violence were reported from different parts of Gujarat. As a result the government had decided to place curfew in prominent cities of Gujarat.
Notwithstanding appeal to people by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for maintenance of peace, police said Patel community members resorted to arson, stone pelting and vandalising public as well as private properties.
Curfew has been clamped in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Mehasana, Patan, Palanpur, Unjha, Visnagar and Jamnagar.
“Five companies of Army was called in Ahmedabad city to control law and order situation as violence escalated due to the Patel agitation,” Ahmedabad District Collector, Rajkumar Beniwal told PTI.
The Army will conduct flag-march on five routes of the city, where large number of incidents of violence have erupted, Beniwal added. About 5,000 paramilitary personnel were also rushed to Gujarat in the wake of unabated violence.
Four people were killed in police firing, while one died of head injuries during clashes which started from last night, police said.
Out of five deaths, three were reported from Ahmedabad while two were reported from Gadh village of Banaskantha district.
In a televised address in Gujarati, the Prime Minister 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.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel this morning and assured her of full central help to tackle the situation. Meanwhile, leader of Patel Anamat Andolan Samiti, 22-year-old Hardik Patel, who is spearheading the quota stir, 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.
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.