Hardik Patel set to be released after nine months in jail

Hardik Patel set to be released after nine months in jail

Hardik Patel set to be released after nine months in jail
After nine months of incarceration, 22-year-old Hardik Patel is set to walk out of jail as the Gujarat High Court today removed the last hurdle by granting him bail in a case related to violence at Visnagar MLA's office.

However, Hardik will have to stay outside Gujarat for the next six months as directed by the high court on Friday when it granted him bail in two sedition cases.

Hardik's lawyer Zubin Bharda said that he is likely to get out of jail a couple of days after completion of all the legal procedures. As to where Hardik will stay during the next six months could not be ascertained.

Justice P P Bhatt today granted bail to Hardik in the Visnagar mob violence case after the state government did not oppose his bail plea. However, the court imposed a restriction on Hardik that he cannot enter Mehsana district, in which Visnagar town is located, till the trial of this case is over.

The news of Hardik getting bail was welcomed by members of the Patidar community who broke into jubilation bursting crackers and distributing sweets. The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) led by Hardik now hopes that his release will revive the quota agitation movement.

Congress termed his impending release as "good for democracy" while ruling BJP said that it was due to their decision of not opposing his bail that he is set to walk out of jail and they expect an amicable solution to the agitation.

While granting bail to Hardik today, the court also added that he can seek modification to the condition (that he cannot enter Mehsana district) after nine months and the court at that time can pass an appropriate order based on his conduct.

Gujarat Congress used the Hardik issue to target BJP with state party president Bharat Solanki saying that "the government tried to shake the will power of this youth by applying dirty tricks and even offering him enticement. But against all this, the young man remained adamant and continued with the struggle. The fact that he has been granted bail is good for democracy."

State BJP president and MLA Vijay Rupani said that Hardik got bail as the government did not oppose his bail plea.

"Chirag Patel and other friends of Hardik, who were jailed in quota agitation, were released due to government's lenient approach. Hardik also got bail due to government's efforts. We are committed to resolving the matter amicably," he said.

During the hearing today, government pleader Mitesh Amin told the court that as 17 other accused in this case have secured bail, he has nothing to say against Hardik's bail application. However, he demanded that Hardik should be barred from entering Mehsana district.

Hardik's lawyer Zubin Bharda submitted that since Hardik was given two days' time by before leaving Gujarat by the court that granted him bail in sedition cases, he would like to visit Mehsana to offer prayers to his family deity at a temple located there, if the present court agrees to it.

The court said since the matter was sensitive, Hardik could again lead a mob and "walk like a hero" if he is allowed to go to Mehsana, but asked his lawyer to seek permission from the court that granted him bail in sedition matters.

The case against Hardik and 17 others was filed by Visnagar town police for ransacking the office of Visnagar MLA Rishikesh Patel during one of the Patidar community's reservation rallies. The lower court had refused bail to him, after which Hardik had approached the high court.

Ahmedabad city convenor of PAAS Atul Patel said they now expect that Hardik will lead the agitation forward. "In this age of technology, he may be sitting anywhere (outside Gujarat), we can take his guidance to run the agitation".

Nalin Kotadiya, an MLA who was ousted by BJP for supporting the Patidar agitation and who met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during his recent Gujarat visit, said Hardik will continue to give impetus to the quota stir.

Hardik, who had spearheaded agitation for quota for Patidar community, is lodged at Surat's Lajpore jail. He was arrested in October 2015. Hardik was accused of inciting violence to put pressure on the government to accept the demand of OBC reservation for Patels.

Hardik's mega rally on reservation held in Ahmedabad on August 25 last year had sparked violence, in which, ten people, including one policeman, were killed and public properties and vehicles were damaged across Gujarat.
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