Quota row: 5 killed in violence; Army called in

Last Updated 26 August 2015, 13:31 IST

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.

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. 

At least two persons were killed in police firing on a mob which tried to torch a police station at Gadh village near the Palanpur town, police said.

"At around 1 pm, an angry mob stormed the Gadh police station and tried to torch it. In their defence, local police fired some rounds, which killed two persons. Curfew has been imposed in Palanpur to avoid any untoward situation," said Banaskantha District Collector Dilip Rana.

"Police has recovered bodies of three persons who were suspected to have been killed in violence spread across the Ahmedabad city," police spokesman N D Trivedi said.
According to a senior police official, two persons died in police firing in Vastral area, while body of a man was found in Ghatlodia in the city.

"Girish Patel (47) and his son Siddharth Patel (20) were killed in police firing late last night," he said.

"The incident took place when a mob tried to snatch the weapons of police. These two had tried to snatch a rifle of a policemen and during the scuffle it went off causing the the casualties," he claimed.

In Ghatlodia, police recovered the body of a man who died due to severe head injury. The deceased is believed to have been beaten up in the clash last night, police said.

Incidents of arson and stone-pelting were reported in many parts of Surat city today, when Patel community members came out in large numbers to "enforce" the bandh.

Chief Minister Anandiben Patel today while making an appeal for peace said 53 companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state and Army will also be brought in various parts of Gujarat.

"At least 53 companies of paramilitary force have been called in Gujarat and after sometime we will also deploy Army in various parts of the state," Patel said in a video message to people of Gujarat.

"But we should think on why the need of calling Army has arisen. In a model state like Gujarat, which is also a peace-loving state, we have to bring in such arrangements from outside... what impression does it make... Therefore I request you with folded hands to keep calm and peace," Patel said.

Widespread violence erupted across the state yesterday after Hardik was detained by the city police. He was later let off.

City Police Commissioner Shivanand Jha has clamped curfew in nine areas including Nikol, Bapunagar, Ramol, Odhav, Naroda, Narayanpura, Krishnanagar, Ghatlodia and Vadaj after following sporadic incidents of violence.

Jha said the situation in areas where curfew has been clamped is under close watch of police.
A mob of around 1,000 people burnt two warehouses of Surat Municipal Corporation in Udhna area of the city. Bikes, buses and vehicles were torched at many places in the city, Surat control room police officials said.

The diamond and textile industries of Surat remained closed.

"Extra state reserve police force (SRP) companies have been deployed in the city to bring the situation under control, while we have also sought deployment of central forces. They will be deployed as and when their companies arrive here," Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said.

A Police Sub-Inspector, identified as Mitesh Salunke, was severely injured, when a mob pelted stones in Lalgate area of the city during the violence last night. 

In Saurashtra region, bandh observed in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Porbandar. Incidents of sporadic violence were reported in all the four districts today, police said.
Rajkot Superintendent of Police (Rural) Gagandeep Gambhir was injured in stone-throwing near Upleta road area, a police official said.

In Ahmedabad, schools, colleges, city bus service, business establishments including banks remained closed. Most of the roads of the city wore a deserted look after last night's violence.

Bandh was observed in most of the cities in North Gujarat, while in Central Gujarat, including Vadodara, the bandh call evoked a mixed response. The bandh got a mixed response in Anand town too.

Police said members of Patel community indulged in arson and stone-pelting and vandalised public property last night after the detention of Hardik.

More than 50 incidents of violence were reported from Ahmedabad city where buses, police posts and private vehicles were set on fire while police personnel were also attacked at some places.

Meanwhile, apart from Ahmedabad, Surat and Mehsana, curfew has also been clamped in Rajkot, Jamnagar and Patan, Palanpur, Unjha, Visnagar.

"Curfew has been imposed in Rajkot city to check the spread of violence," a notification issued by Rajkot Police Commissioner Mohan Jha said.

Rampaging mobs last night damaged bus stations, set afire vehicles and also attacked offices of Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Mohan Kundaria in Rajkot.

Patan district SP Ashwin Chauhan told PTI that they have imposed curfew in Patan town as it was becoming difficult to control the rioters. Curfew has also been imposed in Jamnagar city.
"We had to impose curfew as the situation was getting out of hand," Jamnagar district SP Pradeep Sejul said. 

(Published 26 August 2015, 11:22 IST)

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