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Hardik walks out of jail, vows to continue quota stir

Patel quota agitation leader Hardik Patel today walked out of the Lajpore jail after nine months of confinement following bail granted to him by Gujarat High Court, and vowed to continue agitation, saying he does not want a '56-inch chest, but rights for his community'.

Hardik walks out of jail, vows to continue quota stir
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Hardik Patel

Surat

Hardik, after stepping out of the jail, told reporters that he has vowed to continue his agitation to get reservation for his community under the OBC quota.

In an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's '56-inch-chest' remark made during 2014 election campaign, Hardik said, "I want to say that I don't want height, weight or a 56-inch chest. All I want is rights for my community."

"Our agitation will continue in coming days. Our demand for OBC status for Patels is still there. In coming days, there will be a change in the style of our working, but, our attitude (tevar) will remain the same," Hardik said.

Last week, the High Court paved the way for the 22-year-old leader's release after granting him bail in two cases of sedition and a case related to violence at Visnagar MLA's office.

While granting him bail in the sedition cases, the HC had set a condition that Hardik will have to stay outside Gujarat for next six months. As per the HC direction, Hardik will have to leave Gujarat within 48 hours of his release from jail.

Talking to reporters before embarking on a roadshow with his supporters through Surat city, Hardik warned all political parties against taking political benefits out of the
agitation.

"This agitation is not a property of any political party. No party should think of taking political benefit out of this. This agitation will not stop just because I or someone else wants. It will only end when Patel community gets their right," he said.

According to Hardik, the doors for discussion with the state government is open.

"During the next six months, we will engage in talks with the government on this issue. Our demand is still the same, that is reservation under the OBC quota. When time comes, we will analyse what we have lost and what we have achieved during the agitation and then respond in a proper manner," he said.

"In coming days, we will take a proper decision in the interest of our community. We don't mind if we have to sit and talk with government for arriving at a solution," said Hadik, who thanked the judiciary for his release.

Commenting on the 10 per cent EBC quota for all the unreserved category granted by Gujarat government recently, Hardik indicated that it is still not enough.

"We indeed want to fully utilise whatever we have received (from government) till now. But, we are not given what we demanded (OBC status for his community). Thus, we will first request the government to give it. We will first ask it nicely. We may also sit with government to solve this issue," he said.

The Patel quota agitation leader also hinted at taking the agitation on a national scale by involving the Kurmi community, which the Patels consider as their off-shoot.

"We will also involve our Kurmi community in this agitation and try to get our rights," he said.

Hardik, who had spearheaded the agitation for quota for inclusion of the Patidar community in OBC category, was arrested in October last year.

He was accused of inciting violence to put pressure on the government to accept the demand for granting reservation to Patels under the OBC category.

Hardik's mega rally on reservation held in Ahmedabad on August 25 last year had sparked violence, in which 10 people, including a policeman, were killed and public properties and vehicles destroyed across Gujarat.

Hardik was booked in two cases of sedition in Surat and Ahmedabad, besides under various sections of IPC along with his supporters.

In Visnagar case, Hardik and 17 others were accused of ransacking the office of Visnagar MLA Rishikesh Patel during one of the Patidar community's reservation,

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