Supporters of Hardik Patel (leader of the Patel community and Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) organization) reportedly went through the diamond markets of Varachha and Madihapura in Surat on Saturday and forced the diamond merchants and manufacturers to shut their shops, reports Times of India (TOI).
The action followed the detention of Patel and 35 others on Saturday morning by police, reportedly for defying prohibitory orders ahead of a planned 'Ekta Yatra March' protest for reservation under India's Other Backward Class (OBC) quota. TOI reports that Patel was freed on bail by a court later that day.
Surat diamantaires had voluntarily supported the Patidar's quota agitation last month by keeping their offices and units closed. In this instance, however, PAAS supporters had forced the merchants and diamond cutting and polishing units to close their businesses and join the ‘Ekta Yatra' protest, according to TOI sources.
Rakesh Mendpara, a diamond merchant in Mini Bazaar said, "We supported them (PAAS) during the quota agitation last month by voluntarily keeping our shops closed. Today, it was a forceful closure. The Diwali season is approaching and we want to do our business," said the merchant, as quoted by TOI.
Commenting on the situation, Surat Diamond Association president Dinesh Navadia said, "We have urged the PAAS leaders not to disturb peace in the city as well as the diamond industry that is looking up at the upcoming Diwali festival in hope of good business," reports TOI.
The news source reports that no violence was reported in any part of the city.The Other Backward Castes (OBC) status is an Indian government program which provides reserved quotas (referred to as ‘reservation') in education and government jobs to those granted OBC status. In addition to OBC, there is also ‘reservation' for Scheduled Castes, and for Scheduled Tribes.