Ahmedabad: The "reverse Dandi march" rally to press for a quota for Gujarat's Patel community will happen "at any cost", Hardik Patel, the 22-year-old leader of the stir has said. Mr Patel's statement comes despite the state government denying permission for the rally. Security has been tightened in Gujarat's Navsari town for the rally.
The district administration in Navsari has decided to stop internet services for 24 hours beginning midnight to stifle unrest after the Gujarat government denied permission for the rally for the second time.
"We have rejected all the three applications (to hold the rallies) that we had received, including one application given by one Alpesh Kathiria of PAAS," Navsari District Collector RM Muthudath told PTI, referring to other requests for counter rallies.
The group had sought government's permission to hold the march Dandi to Ahmedabad, calling for the inclusion of the Patel community in other backward classes or OBC category for reservations.
But this will not stop the rally, says Hardik Patel. "The maha sangram (big battle) of Dandi will be there tomorrow. The march will begin with 78 people and later in the day around 50,000 people will join it," he said.
This is the second time the Gujarat government has denied permission for the rally. Last Sunday, it had refused to approve a plan by Mr Patel's Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti or PAAS to take out a "reverse Dandi march", retracing a demonstration-walk led by Mahatma Gandhi against the colonial British government in 1930.
The PAAS has been agitating, demanding reservation for the Patel community, also known as Patidars. Eight people, including a policeman, were killed in clashes after a police crackdown on a rally by Hardik Patel last month.