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Ahmedabad: Less than four months ago, a 22-year-old from Ahmedabad’s backyard burst on Gujarat’s political horizon like a bolt from the blue with his demand for job quotas for the Patel community. But the agitation that shook the ruling BJP seems to be tottering.
The Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) launched by Hardik Patel, a commerce graduate and son of BJP worker Bharat Patel, caught the imagination of youngsters from his community who thronged his rallies across the state in hundreds of thousands.
And for a state known for peace, 12 people were killed as large-scale violence erupted during a police crackdown on the agitators. Patel wants his community to be included among the Other Backward Classes (OBC) who enjoy 27 percent quota in jobs and educational institutions.
The agitation that shook the Bharatiya Janata Party government now seems to be tottering as quickly as it began, thanks to Hardik Patel’s inability to handle the unexpected power the Patel youth handed over to him. This is besides the re-grouping and consolidation of the OBCs backed by Dalits and tribes who would not part with a share from their quota.
After initial procrastination, the Anandiben Patel government cracked the whip. Hardik Patel faces the law for every mistake he made. These are being attributed to his losing the massive support that he got from July.
The sequence of events, since Chief Minister Anandiben Patel set up a seven-member panel headed by seniormost cabinet minister Nitin Patel and invited the Patel youngsters for talks, tells the story.
First, Hardik Patel and his group did not mention their reservation demand and instead sought action against 4,200 policemen who, they said, had unleashed violence, leaving 12 dead after his Ahmedabad rally.
He wanted Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel sacked. Driven to the wall, a confused government sought 10 days’ time.
Then, Patel announced a “reverse” Dandi march from south Gujarat to Gandhinagar to press for the reservation demand.
Anandiben Patel ordered police to clamp prohibitory orders at all places where Hardik Patel and his supporters planned rallies in a bid to crush the agitation.
Hardik Patel kept changing the venue of the ‘yatra’ till the last minute before looking for a safe sanctuary in Surat’s Patel-majority Varachha area. But here too hardly 50 people came. When he ended his speech, police whisked him away with 30 others.
More than the fear of arrest, it was the threat by the newly-formed OBC Ekta Manch to counter the Patels in OBC-dominated 90 villages that unnerved the Patels. The Patidars (Kadwa Patels and Leuva Patels) have a huge population in Surat city but not much outside.
Days later, Hardik Patel organised a rally in Aravali district, some 40 km from Ahmedabad, without seeking police permission. He addressed about 2,000 people and escaped in a cavalcade of cars. On finding police blockades on all roads leading to the highway, he ran through the fields.
Later that night, his supporters claimed he was missing and filed a habeas corpus petition in the Gujarat High Court.
The next day, Hardik Patel told a TV channel that he was kidnapped by plainclothes policemen and left on a highway 100 km from Ahmedabad. He and his lawyer were pulled up by the court for taking it for a ride.
On October 4, Patel made his controversial remarks that “courageous Patels” should kill a policeman or two instead of committing suicide. For this, Patel now faces a sedition charge.
Subsequently, he threatened to disrupt the India-South Africa one-day cricket match in Rajkot by mobilizing 50,000 people. Hardly 50 gathered, and they were rounded up much before the match began.
Here, he was charged with insulting the national flag which he held upside down before he was picked up by police.
During all these events, there was no public outburst or gathering in his support — unlike at the August 26 Ahmedabad rally.
But the government is not writing off Hardik Patel, as is evident from its desire to put off elections to over 300 local self-government bodies.
The government has also announced it would initiate steps to empower the economically weaker sections (EWS) from all communities, including Patels, set up an autonomous development board for EWS, give scholarships for meritorious students and free-ship in self-finance medical and engineering colleges.
As weather cleared up in Uttarakhand, Char Dham Yatra restored on Friday with more than 16,000 devotees resuming the pilgrimage from the Rishikesh camp.
According to sources, road leading to Badrinath has been repaired and helicopter service has also resumed.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami visited Dungi village and met families of people who were missing after the landslip incident, and consoled them.
Dhami assured them of all possible assistance. Two people from the village are still reported to be missing.
Pilgrims were seen leaving from Rishikesh Char Dham Bus terminal and Haridwar bus station for the pilgrimage since morning.
As per the state government, various departments -- Devasthanam Board, police are assisting the pilgrims.
Police Chowki Yatra Bus Terminal, Rishikesh, was announcing passenger-information via loudspeaker.
Free RT-PCR tests of pilgrims were being conducted at Rishikesh bus terminal.
Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Management Board's media in-charge Dr Harish Gaur said pilgrimage was on in Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, while for Kedarnath, helicopter service was also available.
Though the weather was cold in all dhams, thankfully there was no rain, he added.
Portals of the temple in Badrinath will close on November 20, Gangotri on November 5, while that of Kedarnath and Yamunotri on November 6.
Uttarakhand floods, triggered by a major downpour from October 17 to 19, have claimed 65 lives so far, 3,500 people have been rescued while 16,000 evacuated to safety.
Seventeen teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), seven teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), 15 companies of Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) and 5,000 police personnel have been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
The state has already been provided with Rs 250 crore Disaster Fund which is being used for relief works.
To prevent spread of the diseases, the Central and state governments have decided to send medical teams to the affected areas.
Snapped power lines will be restored at the earliest, the government assured.
The state government said that as soon as alert for heavy rainfall was issued, the Incident Response System was activated at state and district levels, and pilgrims were halted at safer places. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Uttarakhand, India, Char Dham Yatra, PushkarDhami, Rishikesh.
The Centre has continued the Naga peace talks with the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN-IM) leaders, but negotiations face roadblocks as the Naga leaders are adamant in their main demands for a separate Constitution and flag.
The sources aware of these developments said that the Centre was hopeful that a successful solution of the six decades-long peace talks would arrive at a logical conclusion, but in the recent statements, Naga leaders have accused the Centre of offering post-solution options.
Sources quoting the stand of Naga leaders said that NSCN's stand was loud and clear that it would not follow the forbidden route to the Naga solution that was linked to foregoing the Naga national flag and Constitution, which is the face of the Naga political struggle and identity.
The Naga leaders have also said that the Centre has been using divisive policy and flattery in the name of finding the Naga political solution when the matters heated up.
When the Centre resumed the peace process in September this year and sent the former special director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) A.K. Mishra as the Ministry of Home Affairs' emissary to the rebel outfit's chief negotiator and general secretary T. Muivah, he assured him (Muivah) that the peace talks would be initiated under the original framework signed in 2015, a source in the Naga rebel group said.
"Here we are talking about the Naga national flag and Yehzabo (Constitution), the two issues that are holding up the Naga solution under the ongoing Indo-Naga political talks in Delhi.
"The chequered history of the Indo-Naga political issue is clear enough before us, with accords and agreements that were never meant to be implemented in letter and spirit", an important office-bearer of the rebel outfit said while criticizing the governments' stand.
Accusing the Centre, he further accused the Centre of persuading the Naga people again to accept whatever is being offered to hurry up the Naga talks.
On the invitation of the Centre, the senior leaders of the NSCN-IM including T. Muivah arrived in the national capital on October 6 this year to hold another round of talks with the Centre.
Both, the Centre and the Naga leaders had indicated their keenness on resolving this long pending issue by the end of this year in an amicable manner.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, who is also chairman of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio had been actively involved in the resumption of the peace talks and taking it forward to a logical conclusion.
Soon after the transfer of Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi, who was appointed as the Centre's interlocutor for the Naga peace talks on August 29, 2014, to Tamil Nadu, the peace talks resumed on September 20 in Kohima when the Centre representative met the Naga leaders and invited them to visit Delhi for further rounds of peace talks.
The NSCN-IM and the other outfits entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 and over 80 rounds of negotiations with the Centre have been held in the past in successive governments. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Nagaland, India, Constitution, Politics, Flag.
The series decider for the Test series between England and India will now be played at Edgbaston from July 1 next year, said the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday. India is currently leading the series 2-1 before the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled hours before the start due to concerns over COVID-19 outbreak in the tourists' camp.
"The fifth match of the LV= Insurance Test Series between England Men and India Men has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022. The match, which was due to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of Covid-19 cases inside the camp," said an ECB statement.
"With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)," added the statement.
ECB also said that due to the rescheduled Test, the white-ball series between England and India will now start six days later than originally planned. The T20I series will begin on July 7 at Ageas Bowl with Edgbaston and Trent Bridge hosting the second and third matches respectively on July 9 and 10. It will be followed by the ODI series starting on July 12 at The Oval followed by Lord's and Old Trafford hosting the second and third ODI on July 14 and 17 respectively.
"Ticket holders do not have to take any action as all tickets will remain valid for the equivalent rearranged matchday at their host venue. Host venues will communicate the new fixture details to ticket purchasers and the options available to them, including the timeframe for requesting a refund if they are not able to attend the new match day," further said the statement.
"We are very pleased that we have reached an agreement with BCCI to creating a fitting end to what has been a brilliant series so far. I'm very grateful to all the venues involved for the cooperation they've shown in allowing us to reschedule this match. I'd also like to thank Cricket South Africa for their support and understanding to allow these changes to be possible," said Tom Harrison, the CEO of the ECB.
"We would like to apologise again to fans for the disruption and disappointment of September events. We know it was a day that so many had planned long in advance. We recognise that accommodating this extra match means a tighter schedule for the white ball series. We will continue to manage our players' welfare and workloads through next year while we also continue to seek the optimum schedule for fans, players and our partners across the game."
"I am delighted that the England-India Test series will now have its rightful conclusion. The four Test matches were riveting, and we needed a fitting finale. The BCCI recognizes and respects the traditional form of the game and is also mindful of its role and obligations towards fellow Board Members. In the last two months, both BCCI and the ECB have been engaged in discussions and our efforts were aimed at finding a suitable window. I thank the ECB for their understanding and patience in finding an amicable solution," said BCCI Secretary Jay Shah. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: India, Britain, BCCI, Test Match, Cricket.