The movement for reservation will continue and the Patidar community needs to put up a united fight for it, quota agitation leader Hardik Patel said, as he held his first rally in one-and-a-half years.
"There are divisions within our community, we need to unite to make our movement strong," said Hardik, who shot to fame after galvanizing Patidar masses in a Gujarat-wide movement to demand reservations under the OBC quota in 2015.
"We should not forget violence inflicted upon our people after the GMDC rally. The deaths of our youths were due to atrocities inflicted on them by the administration," the 23-year-old leader said. This was Hardik's first public meet in the city after the mega rally on August 25, 2015. After Hardik was detained from the GMDC ground here on that day, violence had broken out in different parts of the state and around 10 youths had died in clashes with the police.
Later, he was arrested on sedition charges and jailed before being released on bail by Gujarat High Court on July 15 last year on the condition that he will stay outside the state for six months, starting from July 17. He then stayed at Udaipur in Rajasthan and returned to Gujarat on January 17. "In the last 18 months, the ruling party tried to break our agitation time and again.
Sedition cases were filed against us. But we are not going to break, the reservation stir will go on and nobody can stop it," he said. Hardik said the agitation is for the future generations of Patels, as they will benefit from reservation. The meeting, held in Nikol area of the city, was organised to felicitate the families of Army soldiers -- Lance Naik Gopal Sinh Bhadoriya and Major Rushikesh Ramani -- who lost their lives while fighting against insurgents and also Patidar youths who died during the quota stir.
Hardik also reminded his community members that they have had "not given proper respect" to former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who is from their community. "During Keshubhai's time, Gujarat's debt was Rs 36,000 crore but now it is more than Rs 3 lakh crore, what sort of development is this?," he claimed, adding, "Keshubhai started schemes that were responsible for development of the state. But our community has not given due respect to him."