Ahmedabad: Patidar leader Hardik Patel has been sentenced by a Gujarat court to two years jail and fined Rs 50,000 in a 2015 riots case. Hardik, along with two of his aides, Lalji Patel and AK Patel, has been found guilty of vandalising a BJP MLA’s office in Visnagar.
Ahead of the court verdict, Patel, in a video message posted on his Facebook page, appealed to his supporters to remain calm in case it goes against him.
In 2015, a mob of around 3000 to 5000 people vandalised BJP MLA Rushikesh Patel’s office during the patidar reservation protests. A total of 17 people, including Hardik, were charged with arson, rioting, damage to property and unlawful assembly. The other 14 accused were let off by the court for lack of enough evidence against them.
Hardik, who was arrested and released on bail, was barred by the court from entering Mehsana district in connection with this case. The protests demanding reservation for patidars in government jobs and educational institutions had turned violent, leaving 14 dead in police firing.
Earlier this month, he announced he would sit on an indefinite fast from 25 August in an effort to revive the reservation demand for Patidar. Reservation is our priority and we will continue to fight for it….This is our last fight. Either I will give my life or we will get the reservation. I need your support for this. The fight has come to the last phase… Reservation is our primary issue and we will continue to fight for it,” Hardik said in a video message.
The FIR in the case was filed at Visnagar in Mehsana district on 23 July 2015 when a rally of the Patel community seeking reservation turned violent resulting in damage to property and assault on some media persons. During the violent agitation, the mob had torched a car and vandalised the office of the local BJP MLA.