Firebrand Patidar leader Hardik Patel finally ended his hunger strike after 19 long days, with three community leaders offering him lime water, coconut water and water.
The 25-year-old leader had been on an indefinite fast since August 25, the third anniversary of his massive Patidar rally in Ahmedabad on 2015 with demands of debt waiver for farmers, reservations for his Patel community in government jobs and educational institutions as well as release of his associate Alpesh Kathiriya, now in jail on sedition charges.
Putting responsibility of the Patel cause on the community’s religious organisations, he said after breaking his fast: “This is only out of respect for you elders.
“To show everyone that you are our elders and that we respect you, that we are all united. Now that my community elders are with me, I have nothing to worry or fear,” he declared to applause among his supporters present at his residence where he broke his fast.
Patel expanded his chest to announce: “The belief is that if we live, we shall fight and if we fight we shall live.”
Indicating that he was not going to lie low, he continued: “If one speaks, one is dubbed anti-national and if one doesn’t one is dismissed off as dumb. I think it is better to be called an anti-national and fight for our rights rather than be mute.
“I am a horse I am not going to tire out. I have been recharged by my 19-day fasting and now is time to run for the coming 19 years.”
Patel called it an achievement of his hunger fast, which otherwise could not move the Gujarat government, that leaders of all the six Patidar bodies came together for his sake.
He said: “Today, we have been able to bridge the deep gulf between all the key community institutions which all are expected to stay united for our cause.”
Those who were present included leaders of the two main Khodaldham and Umiyadham, the highest religious places of Leuva and Kadva Patidars in Gujarat, who have been traditionally at loggerheads.
“If Hardik is there, we will have everything. But if Hardik is not there, there would be nothing,” said Naresh Patel, leader of Khodaldham.
C.K. Patel, leader of Umiyadham institution, said this was a “golden” day. “One of our youngsters has decided to break his 19-day fast at the request of leaders.”
As if on cue, C.K. Patel added: “We have already given our memorandum to the state government (for quota for Patidars and debt waiver for farmers) and we are waiting for their answer. It may take time but we will get answers.” (IANS)