The Gujarat High Court today granted bail to Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel in a case related to violence at the office of Visnagar MLA, paving the way for his release after being in jail for around nine months. On Friday, the high court had granted bail to Hardik in two sedition cases with a condition that he will have to stay outside Gujarat for the next six months.
He could not be released from jail on Friday as hearing on the Visnagar case bail application was scheduled to take place today.
Justice P P Bhatt today granted bail to Hardik after the state government did not oppose his application and he will now be able to walk out of jail.
However, the court has imposed a restriction that Hardik cannot enter Mehsana district, in which Visnagar town is located, till the trial of this case is over. The court also added that Hardik can seek modification to this condition after nine months and the court at that time can pass an appropriate order based on his conduct.
The 22-year-old Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader, who had spearheaded agitation for seeking quota for his Patidar community, is now lodged at Surat’s Lajpore jail. He was arrested in October 2015.
Hardik was accused of inciting violence to put pressure on the government to accept the demand of OBC reservation for Patels.
Hardik’s mega rally on reservation held in Ahmedabad on August 25 last year had sparked violence, in which, ten people, including one policeman, were killed and public properties and vehicles worth crores of rupees were damaged across Gujarat.
During the hearing today, government pleader Mitesh Amin told the court that as 17 other accused in this case have secured bail, he has nothing to say against Hardik’s bail application. However, he demanded that Hardik should be barred from entering Mehsana district.
The case against Hardik and 17 others was filed by Visnagar town police for ransacking the office of Visnagar MLARishikesh Patel during one of the Patidar community’s reservation rallies. The lower court had refused bail to him, after which Hardik had approached the high court.