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Surat fire tragedy: Hardik detained after stir threat

Surat| Congress leader Hardik Patel was Monday detained by police after he threatened to sit on a hunger strike if the Gujarat government did not take action against Surat mayor and other officials over with the fire tragedy that claimed lives of 22 students, an official said.

The Congress had sought permission from the Sarthana police station here to hold a protest near the fire incident but it was denied. Despite that, Patel was on his way to the site, Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said.

He was detained because of his threat to hold the protest in Sarthana area where the fire mishap took place last Friday, the official said.

“He had sought permission to hold the protest. We cannot give permission, especially as he already visited the place yesterday and was attacked by a member of his rival group. It’s a question of his protection. Also, we cannot allow him to visit the area every day,” Sharma said.

However, Dharmik Malaviya, a member of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), said Patel was detained from Kamrej highway when he was on way to the house of quota agitation leader Alpesh Kathiriya, who is currently in jail in a sedition case.

Patel was taken to the Icchhapore police station, he added.

Twenty-two students, including 18 girls, of an art and craft coaching institute, died in the devastating fire that engulfed the four-storey Takshashila Arcade in Sarthana area here on Friday.

During his Sunday visit to the commercial complex where the fire incident took place, Patel was attacked by a man, who happened to be his former associate from PAAS which earlier carried out a statewide agitation over reservation of youth from the community.

After the visit, Patel threatened to sit on a hunger strike, if the action was not taken against the city mayor as well as the fire department and municipal corporation officials within 12 hours.

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