The Patel community which is demanding reservations under the OBC quota shows strength with its ambitious mega-rally here today.
Patel leaders' call for bandh and the police's decision to declare some of the main roads as no-go areas and request to the people not to leave house unless in the case of emergency, have brought the commercial capital of Gujarat to a grinding halt.
According to the convener of `Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti' Hardik Patel who is leading the agitation, a `Maha-Kranti Rally' will be organised after a mass gathering at GMDC ground.
"To avoid inconvenience to the locals we have called for a complete bandh in the city as well as in Gujarat. I appeal the authorities to close schools, colleges and other businesses tomorrow," he said.
Patels are unrelenting even though the Chief Minister Anandiben Patel yesterday expressed inability to include the community in the OBC category and requested the leaders to end the agitation and come forward for negotiations. Her video message was constantly aired on local TV channels today.
Security has been beefed up for the public meeting and the rally for which police gave permission yesterday. Police commissioner Shivanand Jha said foolproof security arrangements have been made, and more than 17,000 police personnel -- including 20 superintendents of police, 62 deputy SPs, 244 inspectors, 504 sub-inspectors, 13,000 constables and head-constables and 817 policewomen -- would be deployed.
Thousands of Patel community members have already landed here from many parts of the state. "We also request the citizens not to leave their homes unless there is emergency. In case of emergency, people can contact police and we will do the needful."
"28 companies of State Reserve Police, two units of Chetak commandos (total 150 personnel), four companies of the Rapid Action force and 21 Quick Response Teams will also be deployed," the police commissioner said.
"We will also conduct aerial survey by using four `Netras' (unmanned aerial vehicles). One will be used exclusively for traffic, two will be placed at the rally venue and the fourth will monitor the situation in the city," said Jha.
"Six Command and Control Vehicles with CCTV cameras will be used at the rally. A total of 600 CCTV cameras have been installed in the city. "We will also place 11 'Varun' water cannons at strategic positions and 35 units of 'Vajra' tear gas vehicles.
"We will also deploy 20 Bomb Disposal and Detection Squads at the rally," he said, adding all the armoured vehicles from across the state have been brought here.
As many as 1,838 persons were put into preventive detention by the city police from August 11 to 22.
"We have also conducted Mohalla Sabhas especially in communally sensitive areas and held meeting with the leaders of various communities," he said. "We have also told hospitals to be prepared if any untoward incident takes place. Police have checked various hotels and other places where terrorists are suspected to take shelter. All such places are being checked," Jha said.
The commissioner warned people against spreading rumours through mobile phone messages, whatsapp or internet. Those spreading rumour would face action, he said.