NEW DELHI: India’s Gujarat province banned the internet on Saturday in a bid to stall a major rally against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handpicked government in his home state.

Police in Surat city arrested a 22-year old firebrand leader, Hardik Patel, who has been leading an agitation seeking reservations for the Patel community in Gujarat.

He has been arrested for violating prohibitory orders as he tried to take out a protest march from the city. The police also detained fifty of his supporters.

Soon after his detention, internet services were suspended across the state for 24 hours.

The young leader was denied permission for his ‘Ekta Yatra’ (unity march) by the administration on Friday, but he reportedly remained adamant saying he would go ahead with the march “at any cost”.

After last-minute venue change, Mr Patel arrived at the Mangadh chowk in Surat city with 50 of his supporters and after garlanding a statue of the community’s icon Sardar Patel, started marching in defiance of the orders.

A posse of policemen whisked him away as he said: “This is an attempt to muzzle our peaceful agitation by the state government. We will not give up and will continue our agitation peacefully.”

The rich and powerful community has threatened to stage protests during Mr Modi’s tour of the United States later this month.

In the past two weeks, Mr Patel had announced to take out the “reverse Dandi March,” retracing a demonstration-walk led by Mahatma Gandhi against the colonial British government in 1930. But he cancelled the plan after the district administration denied permission.

Mr Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti or PAAS has been demanding reservation for the Patel community, also known as Patidars. The Patels, who make up 14 per cent of Gujarat’s population, were originally land-owning farmers who branched out into trades like diamond polishing.

But they say their youth is now being excluded from university education and government jobs, which are reserved for castes seen as far more backward and in need of integration into the mainstream.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2015

On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play

Opinion

Avoid Modi’s nationalist turf
Updated 19 Oct 2021

Avoid Modi’s nationalist turf

It remains the only party with a presence in every Indian state and makes it best equipped to effect the required radical change.
Back to the Fund
Updated 20 Oct 2021

Back to the Fund

The main IMF conditions have failed to deliver sustainable growth or even fiscal or external deficit reduction over four decades.
The lamp of guidance
Updated 19 Oct 2021

The lamp of guidance

Those seeking to learn from his example must follow the moral precepts he gave otherwise it is half-hearted devotion at most.

Editorial

Opposition’s chance?
Updated 19 Oct 2021

Opposition’s chance?

What the opposition can do is take advantage of the cleavage between PTI and the establishment, perhaps widen it and leverage it.
Evading tax laws
Updated 20 Oct 2021

Evading tax laws

Challenge of tax compliance can't be dealt with without directly taxing incomes irrespective of source and punishing tax evaders.
19 Oct 2021

KCR delays

AS political and bureaucratic stakeholders drag their feet over reviving the Karachi Circular Railway, residents of...
Financial troubles
Updated 18 Oct 2021

Financial troubles

Growing trade gap is fuelling the current account deficit and bringing the already meagre foreign exchange reserves under stress.
18 Oct 2021

Complaint portal

IN a ruling on Thursday, the Mingora bench of the Peshawar High Court held that the Prime Minister’s Performance...
18 Oct 2021

Capital’s master plan

IT is encouraging that on Thursday, the restructured commission formed by the federal cabinet to revise ...