Activists detained ahead of PM's Statue of Unity visit

File PTI photo of PM Modi in front of Statue of Unity

The police on Wednesday picked up over a dozen prominent tribal activists and leaders from different parts, mostly central, of Gujarat including Kevadia in Narmada district ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit on Thursday to pay tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on the latter's 144th birth anniversary at the cite of Statue of Unity. 

Among those detained include Praful Vasava, Rohit Prajapati, Krishankant, Shailesh Tadvi, Naresh Tadvi, Gikubhai Tadvi and Ramkrishna Tadvi, among others.

When contacted police officers said that these activists were picked up in apprehension of creating "law and order" situation during the Modi's event at Kevadia. When contacted Narmada district superintendent of police Himkar Singh refused to comment.

These activists have been raising opposition against eviction of tribal people of six village surrounding Kevadia colony that is the seat of Statue of Unity.

The affected tribal people have moved high court which has ordered the government to maintain status quo.

"Nearly a dozen leaders have been detained today (Wednesday) from Kevadia, Vadodara, Rajpipla among other places. We are not able to contact them in any manner. However, we are going to proceed with the plan," said a local source associated with the plan of keeping Kevadia bandh to oppose the impending eviction of tribal people.

On the other hand, Modi on Thursday will be paying tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel at Statue of Unity in a grand celebration. It will also mark the first anniversary of the 182-meter tall statue, claimed to be world's tallest. Modi had inaugurated it on October 31, 2018.

Modi is expected to land in Ahmedabad tonight at around 8:30 and would stay in Gandhinagar. On Thursday, he will be participating in several events lined at Kevadia that includes participating in Ekta Diwas Parade and interaction with civil service probationers of 2019 batch who are undertaking first-ever foundation course called "Aarambh" (Beginning). Nearly 500 probationers are undergoing training at the tent city built around the statue.

This will be Modi's second visit at the site in less than two months. Modi had visited the statue last month after waterlevel of Sardar Sarovar Dam's reservoir had crossed its highest mark.

The statue is standing right next to the dam. In the past year, the site has been buzzing with delegates visiting the structure which is being developed as a major tourist destination. Gujarat as well as central government have been trying everything to popularise it among the tourists.

Earlier this month, figures released by the government claimed that in the past one year over 26 lakh tourists visited the statue which fetched Rs 55 crore yearning from selling tickets.

The government has spent Rs 3,000 crore for built the giant statue. The government has several other plans to bring more facilities to attract tourists.

The government has so far built children nutrition park, dinosaur trial, boating in the Narmada river and built a forest which it calls "Global Forest" that will have flora of across the seven continents.

Meanwhile, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which took out the Patel agitation for reservation in 2015, is also organising an event in Patan district to celebrate Sardar Patel's birth anniversary on Thursday. Congress leader Hardik Patel and local Congress MLA Kirit Patel are expected to lead the event.

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