Gujarat, 12 Dzul Qa’dah 1436/27 Agustus 2015 (MINA) – India has deployed paramilitary forces and imposed a curfew in Ahmedabad, the largest city in Gujarat state, after violence broke out at a protest led by a powerful caste to demand more government jobs and college places.
The Gujarat state government imposed a curfew in parts of Ahmedabad and four other cities and towns across the western state and called in paramilitary reinforcements on Wednesday after members of the affluent Patel caste protested in the city, Aljazeera quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
Stone-throwing Patels torched cars, buses and police stations over the arrest of their leader, Hardik Patel, who had hours earlier on Tuesday led a massive protest in Ahmedabad, senior police officers said.
At least a dozen officers were injured in the violence, prompting the first curfew in the state since 2002 when communal riots left at least 1,000 people dead, Gujarat Director General of Police P C Thakur said.
“The curfew was imposed following large scale arson and rioting by members of the Patidar [or Patel] community in different cities of the state late on Tuesday,” Thakur told the AFP news agency.
“There was heavy stone pelting of police vehicles and torching of police stations in Unjha and Kalol towns,” he said.
Hardik Patel, 22, appealed for calm after his release overnight on bail but also called for a new strike on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera’s Nidhi Dutt, reporting from the Indian capital New Delhi, said the ‘Patel Movement’, as it’s being described, “raises some important questions about the delicacy of domestic Indian politics.
“It also raises questions over the age old ‘reservation’ system which guarantees members of minority communities government jobs … the concern is the Patel’s protest may prompt other groups across India to seek similar rights,” our correspondent said.
As many as 100 buses were torched and property damaged in the violence in Ahmedabad, Surat, and Mehsana cities and the towns of Unjha and Visnagar, local officers said.
About half a million Patels rallied in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, paralysing the city, to demand preferential treatment.
Schools said they would remain closed on Wednesday, but it was unclear how many businesses would follow the strike call.
Gujarat’s chief minister, Anandiben Patel, urged members of her own community to maintain the peace. (T/P010/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)