In a major relief for Congress leader Hardik Patel, Supreme Court on Friday granted him interim protection restraining Gujarat police from arresting him in the sedition case registered against him in 2015. This development comes after his wife - Kinjal has stated that Patel has been untraceable since January 18. On February 7, a trial court in Gujarat issued an arrest warrant against Patel - who spearheaded the Patidar agitation - in the same case.
Supreme Court gives relief to Congress leader and Patidar movement chief, Hardik Patel, till March 6, in a 2015 case relating to alleged violence and an FIR during his Patidar rally in Vastrapur, Gujarat. pic.twitter.com/jw3JjEXZzB— ANI (@ANI) February 28, 2020
Patel, who is facing sedition cases related to the 2015 Patidar quota agitation, was arrested on January 18, 2020, after a court here issued a non-bailable warrant for not being present during the hearing. He was granted bail four days later but was again picked up in connection with two other cases filed in Patan and Gandhinagar districts. Patel got bail in these two cases on January 24.
"Hardik Patel has been untraceable since he was arrested on January 18. Though we do not know where he is, the police frequently comes to our residence to ask me about his whereabouts," said Kinjal at an event organised by Patidar quota leaders. Soon on February 7, a trial court issued a non-bailable warrant to Gujarat police after Patel once again failed to appear for a hearing.
In July 2015, Hardik Patel led public demonstrations across Gujarat demanding OBC status for the Patidar community - which would entitle Patidars to a reservation in government educational institutions and jobs. Patel also formed the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and held several demonstrations in places like Mehsana, Mansa, Visnagar. On 23 July, the protests turned violent when some agitators allegedly vandalised the office of Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Rishikesh Patel and destroyed public property.
Taking cognizance, the police filed 1,500 cases against people who took part in the quota agitation. The community has since then demanded the state government to withdraw the cases. Patel who faces over 20 cases registered against him across Gujarat, since then joined the Congress in the run up to the Lok Sabha but could not contest for the polls because of his conviction of the rioting offence in Mehsana.