AHMEDABAD -- Patel quota stir spearhead Hardik Patel yesterday launched an indefinite hunger strike at the Lajpore Jail in Surat, where he is lodged since September in two sedition cases, demanding reservation for his community in Government jobs and education under OBC category.
The surprise move by Hardik came at a time when his close aides have expressed willingness to hold talks with the BJP Government in Gujarat over the quota issue.
Three of Hardik's close aides - Ketan Patel, Chirag Patel and Dinesh Bambhaniya - who are also behind bars in sedition case, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel yesterday and expressed willingness to hold talks.
Since the letter did not have the signature of Hardik, speculation is rife the 22-year-old may have felt betrayed by his own men and decided to undertake indefinite fast.
Confirming the development, Jailor of Lajpore Prison S L Dusa told the media that Hardik, Convener of Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which is spearheading the stir, has stopped taking food since this morning.
"A few days back, Hardik wrote a letter to the Jail Superintendent saying he will launch an indefinite hunger strike from February 20 if his demands are not met. However, he sat on hunger strike from today itself," said Dusa.
In the letter, Hardik had threatened to shun food if the demand of reservation for Patel community under OBC quota is not accepted by the Government, said Dusa.
"Hardik also said Patel youths (who took part in the stir) have been wrongfully arrested by the Government," Dusa said, adding the young quota leader is under constant watch of medical officers inside the jail.
"We have informed the superior officers about his hunger strike. We tried to convince Hardik to end the strike but to no avail. We are taking all necessary precautions.
Doctors are checking his health every hour.
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