The Gujarat government is planning to hold discussions with leaders of the Patel community this afternoon, a day after members of the community quarreled with the police in Mehsana during a protest demanding the release of 23-year-old Hardik Patel.
Patel groups have announced a bandh or shutdown in Gujarat today against the police action. Security has been beefed up in major cities of the state and internet services on mobile phones have been suspended in Ahmedabad, Surat, Mehsana and Rajkot till at least Monday evening to stop the spread of protests.
The protesters had been blocked by the police from marching to the city prison to court arrest. The police made use of batons and tear-gas and about two dozen protesters were wounded. Five policemen were also wounded in the clash, which began after protesters tossed stones at the police, alleged Mehsana District Collector Lochan Sehra. He said, "There was stone throwing at the police following which police had to take action as per law."
No violence was reported from any part of the state since Sunday afternoon, when the police also apprehended almost 500 people in Surat after news about the Mehsana clashes spread.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, who has clarified that the demand of the Patel community for reservation in government jobs and colleges cannot be fulfilled, said, "Agitations keep going on, the government's job is to serve the people."
The Opposition Congress has called for Anandiben's resignation. Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia said, "This government has failed in the state. I would like to say that Anandiben Patel should immediately resign."