Patels Will Follow Modi Around With Black Flags On His U.S. Visit

18/09/2015 1:09 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
A Patidar or member of Patel community holds a mask of Indian freedom fighter and first Home Minister of Independent India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as he participates in a rally in Ahmadabad, India, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. Members of Patel community held a rally Tuesday demanding reservations under the Other Backward Class (OBC) quota. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

NEW DELHI -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a rockstar reception when he visited New York in September 2014, and he riveted the crowds at Central Park and Madison Square Garden on his maiden trip to the United States after winning the national elections in May.

This time around, the Indian-Americans on the West Coast are rolling out the welcome wagon, but there will be many from the influential Patel community in Gujarat, who intend to "embarrass" Modi at several pitstops on his visit, which include meeting technology entrepreneurs at Silicon Valley, and joining Mark Zuckerberg in a town hall-style Q and A at the Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

"They will assemble in black T-shirts and wave black flags wherever he goes," said Varun Patel, spokesperson of the Sardar Patel Group, an organisation spearheading the movement to secure reservations for the Patel community in the "Other Backward Class" category.

"We want to cause him embarrassment until he listens to us. We are very tired of waiting for this arrogant government to respond," he said.

Hardik Patel, the 22-year-old activist, who shot to fame after leading the huge rally of the Patel community in Ahmedabad, last month, was part of the Sardar Patel Group until he formed the 'Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti.'

Nine people lost their lives in the violence that ensued after Hardik was arrested by the Gujarat police during the rally.

On Thursday, Varun said that they were still waiting for permission from the New York police to stage a rally outside the U.N. headquarters while Modi speaks at the U.N. General Assembly on September 25.

While reservation remains their long-term goal, Varun told HuffPost India said they want to embarrass Modi until the Gujarat government ordered an inquiry into nine deaths. "The government has not said anything. The prime minister is the supreme power and he should call for action," he said.

Varun put the Gujarati community at 50-lakh strong, and he expects at least 25,000 of them to join the protests against Modi.

The central government has already taken note of the Patels plan for disruption during Modi visit, according to the SPG spokesperson, who said that he was questioned by a senior official of the Intelligence Bureau, this week. "They wanted to know about our plans during the PM's visit," he said.

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