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Gujarat: Second sedition case against Hardik Patel; two aides arrested

PTI 21 Oct 2015, 22:52:01 IST
PTI

Ahmedabad: A fresh case of sedition was on Wednesday filed against Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel and five others by the crime branch which also arrested two of his aides, even as the Gujarat High Court asked the government how a statement against police could amount to sedition.

Dinesh Patel and Chirag Patel of Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS) were arrested by Ahmedabad crime branch from outside the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday evening when they stepped out of the court. Surat police have already invoked the grave charge of sedition against Hardik, which he has challenged in the high court.

Hardik is currently in the custody of Surat police. The ACP said he may be arrested in the present case by seeking a transfer warrant.

In the case filed by Surat police, Hardik is accused of instigating a Patel youth to kill policemen instead of committing suicide. In the FIR filed by the crime branch in Ahmedabad on Wednesday, the accused are charged with IPC sections 121 (waging war against the government), 124 (sedition -- bringing hatred, contempt or disaffection towards the Government), 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) and 153-B (assertions prejudicial to national integrity).

K N Patel, assistant commissioner of police, crime branch, who is the complainant in the second case, said, "We have been keeping a watch on them for the last three months. After the Patels' mega rally at GMDC ground here on August 25, we found that the accused had incited the people to resort to violence. They made phone calls and used other media to incite people against the government," the ACP said.

"Our surveillance suggested they had asked people in different parts of the state to set on fire police chowkies and public transport buses, hurl stones, attack houses of MLAs and even bomb the Assembly. They hatched a conspiracy to topple the government," the police officer said.

The FIR names six office-bearers of PAAS including Hardik Patel, Dinesh Patel, Chirag Patel and Alpesh Patel.

Earlier on Wednesday, hearing the petition filed by Hardik's father Bharat Patel seeking to quash the sedition charge slapped against his son, Justice J B Pardiwala asked the public prosecutor Mitesh Amin to clarify how the charge was applicable in the case. The judge also asked whether Hardik's advise to kill policemen would attract section 153(a)(promoting enmity between different groups).

"How should I construe that a government established by law in India would include the agencies of the government (police)... Here is a case... where akrosh (anger) and pain is against the police... a state agency... Government maintains law and order by police. (How) this (Hardik's words against the police) was affecting any government established by law in India," the judge asked.

The Patel leader's advice to Surat youth Vipul Desai seemed to be a personal conversation, he said.

"Did he incite people or was it a one-to-one message to Vipul Desai which unfortunately was broadcast by media? Had it not been videographed, it would have been a dialogue between two people," the court said. Amin sought time to take instructions from investigating officer, so the court posted the next hearing to October 23.

Earlier, Amin submitted that the sedition charge should be seen in the context of entire sequence of events following the August 25 rally addressed by Hardik here, and his October 3 conversation with Vipul Desai should not be seen in isolation. Hardik had tried to incite persons of his community against a particular class of persons which is police, he said.

"Giving advice of killing police is prima facie an act of sedition," said the prosecutor. Also, Hardik was well aware of media presence when he spoke to Desai, Amin said. But the judge then said, "The hatred was (directed) against the police."

The court also asked how the section 153 (a) of IPC (promoting enmity between two groups) was invoked. "This (Patels') agitation seems to be different (with the demand) that whatever benefits are being given to other communities should be given to us also," the judge said.

Hardik's lawyer B M Mangukiya said his client did make the controversial statement in Surat, but it wasn't sedition. The words were spoken by "a boy of 22 years" which were not addressed to public at large, he said.

On October 3, Hardik had allegedly advised Desai to kill the police rather than taking own life. "If you have so much courage... then go and kill a couple of policemen. Patels never commit suicide," Hardik allegedly told Desai who had announced that he would commit suicide in support of the quota agitation.