UPDATE : This letter was originally posted by Apoorva Shah and was PLAGIARIZED by Sanjiv Bhatt
This letter was written by APOORVA SHAH not Sanjiv Bhatt, an ex-IPS officer, on Facebook in response to Hardik Patel’s demands for reservations for the Patel community based in Gujarat.
Dear Hardik Patel,
I am a common citizen of Gujarat. I would like to make it clear right at the beginning that reservations are something I don’t support. I think that caste based reservation increase caste difference rather than remove them as was the original intention.
I did not know who you were until a few days ago. I have a feeling I will be seeing a lot more of you now. I have read that your organisation, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), came into existence less than a month ago. I have been told that you believe that the Patidar community is losing out in the development race because of reservation quota.
I completely agree with you. Reservations are the problem. One thing I don’t understand is, if you think reservations are a problem, why are you asking for it? In a television interview you said that the government should either give reservation to the patidars or remove reservation all together. This is like saying “Give me a piece of the cake or throw the entire cake away.”
On one hand you are saying that reservation causes problems and on the other hand you are demanding it too. If the Patidar community gets reservations, it will still be a problem for the rest of the citizens and the Patidar community will go from being against the problem to being a part of it. As someone who is a strong supporter of the Patidar community, why are you letting this happen to the reputation of the community?
I was also curious about a few things that I saw during your rally. In a state where majority of your audience speaks in Gujarati, your speech was completely in Hindi. Who was your real audience? You have photos with political leaders from BJP, Congress and AAP. Have you decided which party you are supporting? Your past and present actions don’t look apolitical to me.
Anyway, coming back to what happened yesterday. You wanted to hold a rally to demand reservations for Patidar. It is your right to demand anything you want to from the government as long as it is peaceful. Government told you that they would give you official permission to use the GMDC ground to hold your meeting and even permitted that you walk all the way to the government office from that place. The road blocks and crazy honking by your friends caused a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people but the government still let you do it because it did not want to be called ‘autocratic’ for rejecting your application to disrupt more than half the city.
You got the ground. You got the permission for a rally right through the heart of the city. You even got the state to bring in thousands of police personnel to ensure that no one disrupted your rally and everything was peaceful. Great.
You were given permission to use the GMDC ground till 8pm. No one questioned or stopped you from using it till that time. At 8pm, when the police asked you to vacate government property, why did you not agree? Why are there photos and videos of your fellow patidars shouting slogans and destroying public property? Doesn’t the government have the right to ask you to move out after the permission expires?
You refused to vacate and so the police arrested you and took you to the police station which had jurisdiction. You were let go after sometime. You alleged that you were man handled inside the police station. I suppose we just have to trust you on that one. While you were in the police station, your supporters burned a lot of private vehicles and buses which belong to the city transport department. They even vandalised a few shops.
I don’t see how your supporters think any of these things will help their case. If they were angry at you being arrested, there are legal ways to go about it. Those are the ways everyone follows if they feel an arrest was illegal. If they were angry that they are not in the reserved category then as they already know, there is a pre-defined procedure to ask for it. Government authorities get to decide on a case by case basis if your community is eligible for reservation. There are set guidelines/checklists to do this.
Any individual citizen or group of citizens cannot hold the government hostage. If it tries to, government has every right to neutralize the situation to ensure the safety of the other citizens.
I don’t know how you can, with a straight face, say government lathi charging your people is wrong when the people who were being lathi charged were destroying public and private property.
Freedom of expression is a great thing to use but government has the right to stop it when it clearly violates other citizen’s freedom to live peacefully and feel safe.
It was also great to see people come in really expensive cars to rallies and then claim to be ‘under privileged’. As a lot of people have noted, a ‘show of strength’ to prove that you are one of the ‘weaker castes’ is hilariously ironic. If the money spent in organising this rally was used to help the poor brethren of your community, no one in the community would even need reservation.
At 22, you have a lot of good years ahead of you. I would suggest improving your knowledge at least on topics that you are fighting for. I would suggest reading ‘Falling Over Backwards’ by Arun Shourie to understand the issue of reservation.
I will break down the above things for you in simpler terms just so that there is no doubt:
Burning public/private property – BAD
Peacefully putting forward your views/demands – GOOD
Holding the government hostage and blackmailing it – BAD
Fighting elections and changing things – BAD
I hope I have made my point. I have a feeling I will see you more often at least till the 2017 elections in Gujarat. I hope you use your power to bring positive change in the country. Youth in India rarely get this chance, don’t spoil it for the rest of us. Don’t malign the reputation of your community/city/state.
If you ever take start a peaceful campaign to remove reservations, I will stand by you. For now, let’s stop this and bring back normalcy to our city and state.
Here’s to hoping for a more peaceful tomorrow.
A common citizen.