NEW DELHI -- Hardik Patel, who has emerged as the face of the Gujarat Patel community's quota movement, was detained in the city of Surat while attempting to lead a protest march on Saturday morning.
On Friday, the state government denied permission for the "Ekta Yatra", which the Patels were planning to carry out today from the Mangadh chowk in the city. Citing law and order concerns, state authorities detained Hardik and over 30 of his supporters in the city.
"The Gujarat government wants to muzzle our voice. They want to harass us. The Gujarat government and the state police wants violence in the state. This act is against the spirit of democracy," he said, the Press Trust of India reported.
The Govt & the police of Gujarat just want to create unrest in the state: Hardik Patel pic.twitter.com/m6CumsaSLh— ANI (@ANI_news) September 19, 2015
NDTV reported that Whatsapp and Internet services were suspended in Ahmedabad and Surat for 24 hours after Hardik's arrest, NDTV reported.
The Patel community's agitation hit the national spotlight following their massive rally in Ahmedabad on August 25, which was led by 22-year-old Hardik, who 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.
Escalating their movement in the past few weeks, leaders of the Patel movement have said that their community members fail to secure positions in educational institutions, and lose out on employment spots, because those opportunities are taken by candidates in the OBC category even if they are less qualified or have poorer grades.
Hardik's overnight emergence and audacious criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his own turf has stunned the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Gujarat as well as the NDA government at the centre. He has also warned the BJP government in Gujarat that they would be defeated in the 2017 polls if his demands are not met.
Hardik was forced to cancel his "Reverse Dandi March," which he reportedly renamed the "Ekta Yatra," twice this month after the state government denied him permission to carry it out.