Mehsana calm, Gujarat bandh call gets poor response

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Ahmedabad, April 18 (IANS) A ‘Gujarat bandh’ called by Patel community leaders received tepid response on Monday even as Mehsana town, which saw clashes between the Patidars and police on Sunday, remained peaceful.

Authorities lifted curfew and prohibitory orders in the town in the morning while police, State Reserve Police (SRP) and the Rapid Action Force remained deployed in the town and other north Gujarat towns.

Mehsana Superintendent of Police Chaitanya Mandlik said the shutdown call received no response in the district. The police have lodged complaints against 25 people for the violence on Sunday.

He told journalists: “You can look around and see that the traffic is normal, the shops are open.”

Agitating Patel groups who had rushed to the district jails in Mehsana and Surat in south Gujarat to court arrest on Sunday had clashed with the police who tried to prevent them.

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Mobs later burnt camp offices of two state ministers, Nitin Patel and Rajnikant Patel, besides local MP Jaishree Patel as well as state transport buses in Mehsana and Ahmedabad.

They also burnt a couple of government offices and blocked a state highway in Saurashtra.

The authorities had suspended mobile internet services in north Gujarat and Ahmedabad to prevent the spread of rumours and incendiary information. The ban will continue till Tuesday morning.

Mandlik maintained that Sardar Patel Group (SPG) leader Laljibhai Patel, detained on Sunday, had sustained a head injury during stone-throwing by the agitators and was not caned by the police as claimed by Patel and his supporters.

He cited primary medical reports to say that Patel was hit by a stone.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government on Monday called a meeting between a ministerial committee set up by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and leaders of Patidar groups to deliberate a possible solution to the nine-month-old agitation demanding reservation for the community in government jobs and educational institutions under the Other Backward Class (OBC) category.

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