NEW DELHI – An Indian court Wednesday sentenced a 24-year-old controversial community leader Hardik Patel in the western state of Gujarat to two years in jail for rioting nearly three years back.
Apart from Patel, his two aides were also handed down the same punishment and the trio were slapped a fine of 50,000 rupees (700 U.S. dollars) for their role in rioting and damaging public properties during a 2015 community rally seeking reservation in jobs and education.
“Patel and two others have been held guilty by the court for the violent clashes that broke out between some 500 community protesters and police during the rally in Gujarat on July 23, resulting damage to public properties,” a lawyer said.
The economically powerful Patels make up 20 percent of the population of Gujarat, the homestate of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, they have been demanding reservation in jobs and education on the pretext that quotas for lower castes put them at a disadvantage.
The Patel agitation created problems for the state’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party before the last year’s assembly polls, though it managed to secure a comfortable win. Modi was the three-time Chief Minister of Gujarat before becoming Prime Minister in 2014, defeating the Congress Party. (Xinhua)