Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Police have filed a first information report or FIR accusing 22-year-old politician Hardik Patel of sedition. He was caught on camera purportedly telling supporters to kill policemen rather than commit suicide for the cause of reservation for Patels.
Hardik Patel has alleged that his comments at a meeting with a supporter, who had threatened to kill himself in Surat about a fortnight ago, were "misinterpreted." He has also questioned the authenticity of the video tape.
But the Gujarat Police said they have verified that the tape is not "doctored". The FIR was filed late on Sunday night in Surat; sedition is a serious, non-bailable offence.
Mr Patel is already under arrest in Rajkot. On Sunday morning, he was detained some distance away from a stadium in the city where a cricket match was played between India and South Africa. Mr Patel had threatened to stage a protest at the stadium during the match.
The Rajkot Police did not release Mr Patel. Late on Sunday, they took him in custody alleging that he had shown disrespect to the national tricolour earlier in the day by trampling on it and holding it upside down.
Hardik Patel is the face of an agitation by the politically influential Patel community for reservation in government jobs and colleges in Gujarat. Since his brief detention in Ahmedabad in August that led to large-scale violence in many parts of the state, the Gujarat Police have thwarted the young activist's many attempts to gather crowds and stage protests.
That has led to his arrest several times in the last few months. In September, Mr Patel accused the police of abducting him.
Last week, Hardik Patel warned BJP chief Amit Shah, "I request Amit Shah to stay away from the Patel community's agitation to get reservation. We will not stop it just because you want it. The agitation will not stop till I am alive. And if you still want to crush the stir by force, then you will have to kill me."
The BJP government in Gujarat has said it will be unable to meet the Patel demand for inclusion in the list of castes that get the benefit of affirmative action.
In an attempt to take the steam out of Hardik Patel's agitation, the state government had last month announced financial aid for students from economically weak sections of society across castes and communities.