Patels withdraw bank deposits, ban politicians' entry in villages

Ahmedabad: Intensifying their quota stir, residents of some Patel-community dominated villages in Gujarat are withdrawing their bank deposits with one cooperative bank reporting that about Rs 20 lakh was withdrawn in just one day.

The residents also banned the entry of political leaders into their hamlets as part of their protest against alleged police atrocities during the violence in connection with the quota agitation by the Patel community.

Banners carrying a stern 'warning' to politicians against entering the villages have been put up by angry local Patel residents who are targeting them for apparently not coming out in support of the community after the violence, The Patel leaders demanding reservation under OBC quota had earlier made an appeal to their community members to withdraw their money from banks to give a message to the state government for not acceding to their reservation demand.

Responding to an appeal made by the Sardar Patel Group (SPG-an organisation headed by Lalji Patel seeking quota for Patels), several locals of Patel community queued up outside the Sabarkantha District Cooperative Bank in Vadrad village of Sabarkantha district yesterday to withdraw their deposits.

"To support the demand of reservation for our community, I have withdrawn Rs 50,000 from this bank. There are many others from our community who will also withdraw their deposits. We will not put the money back into the bank till our demands are not met," a local Mahesh Patel said.

According to the cooperative bank manager K K Patel, about Rs 20 lakh was withdrawn in just one day. "As part of the Patel agitation, these people are withdrawing their deposits. We cleared several cheques worth Rs 20 lakh till yesterday afternoon. This may continue in coming days," K K Patel told reporters today.

The Patels are enraged over alleged police atrocities and deaths of at least eight persons of their community during the violence after quota rally in Ahmedabad on August 25. Many Patel-dominated villages put up banners warning political leaders (irrespective of their party affiliations) and workers, who did not come out in the support of the community after the violence, not to enter the village or hold any meeting to seek votes for the upcoming local body polls.

Such banners have been put in Lodara village of Gandhinagar district, Kansa in Mehsana, Vaniyad and Khambhisar in Aravalli district of north Gujarat among others.

These banners have a common text which reads: "Political leader or worker, be it of BJP or Congress, must not come here to beg for votes. They should not hold any meeting or rally here. If they do, we will not be responsible for anything if they enter our village."

"These leaders did not turn up here when we needed them. Now, if they come for votes, we will not be responsible if anything happens to them," it said.

"Lodara is considered as a BJP stronghold. But, none of the BJP leaders came here to extend help. Patels are very angry with them, as none of the leader said anything about the police atrocities against us. Now, if they come here for votes, we will not be responsible if things get out of control," Lodara village resident Suresh Patel warned.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Vijapur in Mehsana, Prahlad Patel on Tuesday sat on symbolic one-day hunger strike in his constituency to condemn the alleged police atrocities and pay homage to the 'martyrs' who lost their lives during the quota agitation. He had earlier supported the demand for reservation for Patels by writing a letter to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

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