Seven people were killed, five of them in police firing, when an agitation by the Patel community turned violent in the Indian state of Gujarat Tuesday.

A bus damaged by people in Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat, after the arrest of Hardik Patel, convener of 'Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti
A bus damaged by people in Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat, after the arrest of Hardik Patel, convener of ‘Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti

The community is demanding ‘other backward class’ (OBC) status  that could  ensure them quota for admission in educational institutions and jobs in government offices, agencies report.

The Army, who were called in control the situation, conducted flag marches Wednesday on five different routes in the city to instill confidence among the people.

“At least five companies of Army conducted flag-march on five different routes and covered all those areas where violence was reported Tuesday,” Ahmedbad District Collector Rajkumar Beniwal said.

The violence started on Tuesday night after the arrest of Hardik Patel, who is leading the reservation campaign for the community. A shutdown was observed across Gujarat Wednesday. Patel was released later.

In north Gujarat, mobs set fire to the offices of a minister and two MLAs.

In a televised address in Gujarati, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed for calm and emphasised that all issues can be resolved through talks.

“In the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the way violence has been resorted to as a tool….I appeal to all brothers and sisters of Gujarat that they should not resort to violence. The only ‘Mantra’ must be ‘Shanti’ (peace),” said Modi, who has been Chief Minister of the state for 12 years.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in the morning and assured her of full central help to tackle the situation.

About 5,000 personnel of Rapid Action Force, CRPF and BSF have been sent to assist the local administration in maintaining law and order, especially in all curfew-bound areas.

“The Home Ministry is in constant touch with the Gujarat government and additional forces have been rushed as requested by the state government,” a senior official said.

The prompt central government action came considering that Gujarat has witnessed many communal clashes in the past, the official said.

Members of Patel community Tuesday night resorted to arson, stone-pelting and vandalism after brief detention of their 22-year-old leader Hardik Patel, following which curfew was imposed in three towns of North Gujarat and some areas of Surat.

As the news of detention of Patel spread, violence broke out in Ahmedabad and later spread to other cities like Surat, Mehsana, Rajkot and some interior areas of the state. He was later released.

Patel has called for a state-wide shutdown Wednesday to press their demand for reservation.

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