Hardik Patel arrested for insulting national flag, charged with sedition

Surat/Rajkot: Firebrand quota agitation leader Hardik Patel was arrested on Monday in a case of insulting the tricolour and has also been booked under stringent sedition charges for his alleged controversial remarks instigating a community youth to kill policemen instead of committing suicide.

Hardik, who was detained yesterday by Rajkot rural police ahead of the India-South Africa One-Day International as he had threatened to disrupt the match, was arrested by the rural police for allegedly insulting the national flag.

Hardik PatelHardik Patel

"We have checked all the video footage, which clearly suggested that Hardik did commit an offence of insulting the national flag. Thus, police have lodged an FIR against Hardik at Paddhari Police Station today after which, we have arrested Hardik," Rajkot-Rural Superintendent of Police Gagandeep Gambhir said.

A case of sedition was also slapped against Hardik. "We have filed a case of sedition against Hardik Patel for his October 3 comments here telling his friends to kill policemen," Surat city DCP Makrand Chauhan, who has become a complainant in the case, said.

The sedition case has been filed under section 124(A) of IPC at Amroli Police Station in Surat under which any accused, if convicted, can be sentenced to maximum of life imprisonment, while the minimum sentence is of three years.

The section reads, "whoever, by words, either spoken or written..brings hatred or contempt, or excites disaffection towards the Government shall be punishable with imprisonment for life...or with minimum imprisonment up to three years."

Other IPC sections included in the FIR against Hardik are section 115 (Abetment of offence), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups, 505-2 (incite one community against another) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

According to Surat City Commissioner of Police Rakesh Asthana, Hardik will be arrested from Rajkot if he manages to get bail from a local court in Paddhari, where he has been arrested on charges of insulting national flag.

"We have already sent a team at Rajkot to arrest Hardik. If he is given bail, we will arrest him and bring him to Surat for interrogation," said Asthana. The investigation in the Hardik case has been handed over the Surat crime branch. The 22-year-old fiery leader had allegedly advised a youth from his community to kill cops rather than ending his life.

"If you have so much courage...then go and kill a couple of policemen. Patels never commit suicide," Hardik had allegedly told the youth Vipul Desai, who had announced that he would commit suicide in support of the agitation.

Hardik had visited Desai's house accompanied by a team of a news channel which had aired the conversation later. This complaint against Hardik comes after almost 15 days of his controversial remarks.

The quota spearhead has been hogging the limelight since the August 25 "mega-rally" of Patels in Ahmedabad and the subsequent violence across Gujarat in which 10 people were killed.

Hardik was detained yesterday by police on his way to Khandheri cricket stadium in Rajkot ahead of the India-South Africa match as he had threatened to stage a protest at the stadium.

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