PAAS activists demanding OBC status arrested in Gujarat

Gandhinagar, Oct 26 (IANS) Over 30 activists of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) were arrested when they gathered outside the office of the Gujarat Other Backward Class (OBC) Commission here on Wednesday to demand the community be accorded OBC status, police said.

On Wednesday, more than 50 PAAS members assembled outside the office of the OBC Commission to make a formal application seeking OBC status for Patels, including both the dominant sub-sects, Kadwa and Leuva, forming part of Patidars in the state.

The trouble began when PAAS members sought to enter the office of the Commission head, Justice (retd) Sugnyaben Bhatt. While she agreed to meet five PAAS representatives, all those present insisted on meeting her and began arguing with police.

The protesters were led by PAAS conveners Dinesh Bambhaniya and Lalit Vasoya and sitting legislator from Dhari, Nalin Kotadiya.

“When we stopped them, they threatened to go to the Sachivalaya and meet the Chief Minister. We were forced to detain 31 persons, including Bambhaniya, Kotadiya and Vasoya, to prevent any trouble,” said a senior police officer.

Reacting to police action, PAAS leader and Patel quota stir’s face Hardik Patel, in a video message on social media, hit out at the state government, saying that it was trying to suppress their voice.

“The government is trying to muzzle our voice. Though our members were not involved in any violence, they have been detained by police. Why are they stopping us from making our representation? It shows that the government is trying hard to see that Patels do not get reservations and that they are interested only in dividing Patels,” he said.

While the OBC Commission grants the OBC status to a community after carrying out a detailed survey on the history, including the social and educational backgrounds, of a particular community, Patel reportedly demanded the status irrespective of any such survey.

Other than PAAS, over a dozen other Patel groups have already submitted their applications seeking OBC status with the Commission, which examines and recommends requests for inclusion or exclusion from the list of communities notified as backward. The state list of OBC communities numbers 146, including some from the Muslim minorities.

PAAS has been spearheading the 14-month-old agitation seeking OBC status for the state’s socially and economically powerful Patel community.

According to information available, the application submitted by PAAS on Wednesday includes the socio-economic history and status of the community in the state.