Rajkot: As expected, police detained the agitating Patidar leader Hardik Patel and four other conveners of Patidar Anamant Andolan Samiti (PAAS) half an hour before the start of the third ODI between India and South Africa in Rajkot yesterday.
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Hardik Patel (in white) who was arrested on the Rajkot-Jamnagar Highway near Rajkot yesterday. Pic/PTI
"Police detained Hardik Patel when he was on his way to the cricket stadium to stage a protest," confirmed Gagandeep Gambhir, Superintendent of Police, Rajkot (Rural). "He was taken to the SRP headquarters in Ghanteswar area in the outskirts of the city."
Patel was disguised as a farmer when the police stopped his car at the Madhapar Cross Road, some 10 km from the stadium. Patel had earlier threatened to cordon off the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium with 50,000 Patidars and block the way of the Indian and South African teams.
He had planned "silent protest" from inside the stadium by purchasing more than 15,000 tickets. But it was not to be as nearly 20,000 tickets were allegedly sold to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leaving Patel and company furious.
The news of Patel's detention was welcomed by most cricket aficionados inside the stadium. Vishwa Solanki (20) said: "There is no room for politically-motivated or any other troublemaker at a sporting contest."
Instead of the protesting Patidars, eventually there turned out to be was a bigger presence of BJP loyalists in the stadium. They were seen cheering the Indian team wearing blue t-shirts with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's image on them.