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20,000 cops, drones, CCTVs, bomb squads -- how Ahmedabad is facing the Patel rally

By Prasanna D Zore
August 25, 2015 11:20 IST
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Youngsters from the Patel community gathered in Ahmedabad to demand reservations. Photograph: Prasanna Zore

As lakhs of Patels gather for a rally seeking reservations, Ahmedabad has 20,000 cops ready with water cannons, drones, surveillance cameras, bomb disposal squads and quick response teams to maintain law and order, reports Prasanna Zore/ Rediff.com from Ahmedabad.

Talk to any Amdavadi (resident of Ahmedabad), and they seem worried by the huge gathering of Patidars (Patels), led by 22-year-old Hardik Patel, the convener of Patidar Anamat Andolan Sabha, assembled in the city to demand reservations under the other backward class quota.

Hardik has become the face of a huge and spontaneous wave of resentment against the government’s neglect of his community compared to the emergence of other OBC castes like the Thakores, Chaudhris and Kolis, to name just a few, since V P Singh announced 27 per cent reservations in government jobs and government colleges, educational institutes after he became prime minister in 1989.

In a show of strength intended to put pressure on the Anandiben Patel led-state government which has steadfastly refused to include the Patidars as OBCs citing Supreme Court judgments and the Indian Constitution, the PAAS, along with a flurry of social organisations that the Patels owe allegiance to, are obviously seeking a confrontation with the state government with the rally.

And this has left the residents of Ahmedabad worried.

Lalit Doshi, a chartered accountant who owns Doshi Associates near Gujarat University, says he won’t be present in his office on Tuesday.

“I am worried about the situation in the city,” he says expressing concern.

“Even if only 5 lakh people from outside the city enter Ahmedabad, I don’t think there will be any kind of normalcy left on the roads on a working day,” he says when asked why he would not be attending work on Tuesday.

Pravin Chawda, an autorickshaw driver, says while he will avoid areas in and around the Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation ground, the venue of the rally, he will be plying his autorickshaw despite the chaos.

Although elaborate arrangements have been made by the city police and state government, Chawda believes the situation could go out of control.

“The city is not capable of accommodating so many people at the same time. Ahmedabad will choke; we won’t be able to breathe,” says Chawda.

“All the roads leading to the GMDC grounds are closed for traffic which will be diverted for smooth passage,” said traffic cop Nanubhai Lalji, who is manning the main junction near the ground.

While the organisers have expressed confidence that the assembly will be peaceful and will pose no threat to the law and order situation in the city, the state administration will be assisted by the Central Reserve Police Force, the Rapid Action Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Central Industrial Security Force personnel to provide a protective umbrella over the city.

As many as 20,000 police personnel have been deployed for the orderly passage of the Patidar protest including 20 superintendents of police, 62 deputy SPs, 244 police inspectors and 504 police sub-inspectors from Ahmedabad and adjoining jurisdictions.

These security personnel will be supported by approximately 210 jawans of quick response teams and special operations group and 150 jawans of Chetak commandos.

Apart from these there are airborne drones keeping a vigil over the area, 11 water cannons, 200 surveillance cameras on the GMDC ground, and over 500 CCTV cameras leading to the venue and 20 bomb disposal squads on call.

Ashish Patel, a 21-year engineering student from Ahmedabad, says the congregation will pass off without any untoward incident. "We are not here to create trouble. We just want to show to the government that they cannot neglect the Patels anymore,” he says.

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Prasanna D Zore / Rediff.com in Ahmedabad
 
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