Led by a 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the Patidars (Patels) of Gujarat have been demanding other-backward-castes (OBC) reservation for the community.
Here are some of the key things to know on the developments so far:
The face of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Hardik Patel has in the past few days led several rallies to warn that the Patels can “make or break governments in Gujarat”, challenging Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. The young Patidar leader’s short detention on Tuesday saw violent protests across Ahmedabad and other areas of the state.
The call for a bandh
After reports of stone pelting, arson, ransacking of government offices, and damage to state-run buses by enraged supporters of Hardik Patel, several schools and colleges in Ahemadabad remained closed on Wednesday.
In the latest development, Patel has called for a bandh in Gujarat. According to an NDTV report, in a late-night message on WhatsApp, he said: “I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm.”
Suspension of internet
While Ahmedabad saw complete suspension of internet services (both mobile and desk devices), mobile data services were switched off in other areas of Gujarat. WhatsApp and SMS services were suspended on priority to prevent “rumours” from spreading.
State shut down
Curfew is imposed in nine police stations areas of Ahmedabad. Section 144 clamped on two police stations.
Police action on Tuesday
Around 9 pm on Tuesday, after Hardik Patel’s rally at the GMDC ground in Ahmedabad, the police lathicharged a large crowd still present. Patel was detained and released within an hour. The police said the agitators did not have the permission to stay at the grounds after the rally.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel has appealed for calm, and ordered an inquiry into police action at the venue of rally.
CM also a Patidar
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, also from the Patel community, has remained rigid in her stance opposing the Patidars’ demand, saying Gujarat has already hit the 50 per cent reservation cap ordered by the Supreme Court.
Others unhappy, too
Other castes that benefit from reservation are also opposed to the Patels’ demand for reservation. This has caused inter-caste clashes, including some in and around Ahmedabad.