Hardik Patel Still in Jail for Sedition, No Bail
NEW DELHI: Hardik Patel, arrested on sedition and waging war against the state charges, in October last year has still not been given bail. His sudden emergence as the ‘leader’ of a Gujarat wide Patidar agitation for reservation under the Other Backward Communities quota, was nipped in the bud as abruptly with the state authorities opposing his numerous bids for bail for six months now.
Patel still seems to have support in the state, although the ‘likes’ on his Facebook page have dwindled. His rather belligerent posts are more muted now, with in fact an announcement that his parents are finalising wedding plans for when he is released replacing the more vociferous claims to continue the struggle that were visible just after his arrest. “Hardik 'reserved' for marriage. Hardik Patel, the Patidar quota agitation leader, will be reserved for a girl from his home town. Hardik's parents on Saturday announced that they will conduct their son's engagement ceremony with a girl from their home town Viramgam, Kinjal Patel, after he comes out on bail,” reads the post.
Patel was arrested for sedition, following widespread violence that paralysed parts of the state with the Gujarat government being reduced, in the initial stages of the stir, to a bystander. He was arrested for alleged remarks inciting violence against the police, a charge that his lawyers have denied. The Opposition in the state has maintained that Hardik Patel’s arrest has more to do with his popularity that is seen as a ‘challenge’ by the Anandiben Patel government, and less to do with the actual charges.
Patel’s lawyers appear to be struggling to get him out of jail with the courts rejecting the bail pleas, and the police filing new cases against him based on his agitation last year. At a hearing on April 7 the lawyers made a plea yet again for bail pointing out that the violence after the August 25 rally was in response to the police use of force. Media reports from the state said that Patel’s lawyer Zubin Bharda, arguing before Justice AJ Desai said that his client was fighting for his community, and not against the government. He said that Hardik Patel had at his rally in August appealed repeatedly for peace, but the police use of force had led to the violence. "Police resorted to lathi-charge. The charge sheet states that public property was damaged at the GMDC ground which is not possible as the ground itself is empty," he said.
Bharda further said that Patel’s speech where he invoked Bhagat Singh was misinterpreted by the police. "When we think of Bhagat Singh, we recall that he bombed the British but what Hardik meant was not bombing literally but symbolically bombing the government out of power through the the ballot,” the lawyer was quoted in the media as saying.
Developments over the past few weeks indicate the struggle by Patel to get out of jail, and the determination of the authorities to keep him inside:
- In early February, 2016 the Surat Police opposed his bail plea on the ground that he may tamper with evidence and try to influence the witnesses; a day later a sessions court in Ahmedabad adjourned for
- a week as the investigating officer in the case failed to file a reply challenging the plea;
- a week later an audio tape surfaced quoting other Patel quota agitation leaders saying that their community has no chance of getting OBC reservation;
- a few days later Hardik Patel was admitted to hospital following a hunger strike where he complained of weakness and dizziness;
-in early March two mobile phones were recovered from outside Patel’s cell; three days later a Ahmedabad court rejected his bail plea;
-Police again filed a chargesheet against Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and 16 others in a case of rioting and assault registered at Visnagar town of Gujarat last July.;
-on March 12 Hardik Patel again moved the Gujarat high court for bail; a Surat court on March 15 rejected his bail plea:
-A day later media reported that the authorities of Lajpore jail wanted Patel to be shifted to another prison because of his ‘uncivilised behaviour.’
-their high-profile inmate Hardik Patel, the Patel quota agitation leader, to be shifted to another prison because of his "uncivilised behaviour".