Dear 22 year old, Hardik Patel,
I, another 22 year old fellow Gujarati, am writing this letter to discuss what has happened in Gujarat in last 48 hours. You, me and all fellow countrymen are aware about the peaceful protest that you have been leading since last few days. To be honest, I didn’t know you until 25th August 2015. The movement of Patidar community asking for reservation is going on in Gujarat since a month, but I heard your name for the first time on 25th August, when you lead the Maha Rally in Ahmedabad. And I believe there are lacs of Gujaratis like me who heard about you on the very same day. We thought the entire movement was being executed voluntarily by all the Patidar fellows, but the rally got a face on 25th August (at least as we fellow Gujaratis know it). I noticed couple of things when you addressed the rally in Ahmedabad. Listing down some of the points here.
1. Firstly, you were gathered to ask for reservation for Patidar community from Gujarat government. Both the community and government would have understood you, if you have addressed them in Gujarati language. Gujarati language would have left a good impact too. But you started with Hindi and completed your entire one and a half hour speech in Hindi. Which took us by shock. Your audience were Gujarati, then why did you choose Hindi?
2. Secondly, Patidars were gathered in the rally to ask and talk about reservation. You talked about reservation for like ten minutes. Your rest of the speech was to defame Gujarat government and our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. You were clearly trying to impose your political views on fellow Gujaratis.
3. Thirdly, we all noticed the tone of your speech. “Ham log pure Hindustan ko apni Aukaat dikha denge!” Who are you? Al Queda leader? Aren’t you a fellow Hindustani too? How can you use such a dreadful tone while addressing the rally of lacs of people?
4. Fourthly, the most annoying thing about you was your arrogance. You challenged Chief Minister Anandiben Patel to come to you and accept your application? Who are you to order a Chief Minister?
5. Fifthly, you clearly provoked the rally towards violence. “Agar hamari mange nahi sweekari to lanka jala denge!” When you are leading a peaceful protest, you don’t make statements which can provoke people to incline towards violence. But you clearly did that.
With these five points, I cleared my perspective about you from what I observed in your first speech in Maha rally. Now I will try to enlighten you with the knowledge I gained in last two days. Please have a look at my detailed observation on various points related to your peaceful protest.
Is reservation really possible?
First and foremost, according to the Supreme Court of India, only 50% or less than 50% of total seats can be reserved for backward class.
27% of the total seats in Gujarat comes under OBC (Other backward class) and 22% of the total seats comes under SC/ ST (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes). Which means 49% of total seats in Gujarat already comes under reservation, which cannot exceed according to the judgement from the Supreme Court of India. So technically, more reservation is not possible.
Why would government not give more reservation?
More reservation is not technically possible, but let say if government gives reservation to Patels. In that case, Rajputs from Rajasthan, Singhs from Punjab and Maratha from Maharashtra will come and ask for reservations. So if they are allowing one particular caste to be included in backward class, it will be injustice to all other castes. Hence, government would not give reservation to any more castes.
Do you really need reservation?
Firstly, I would like to translate Patidar. Patidar is a Gujarati word for landowner. And as the name suggests, Patidar is one of the wealthiest castes across Gujarat. Patels dominates all industries in Gujarat taking from diamonds to real estates to textiles. Majority of diamond polishing industries of Surat are owned by Patels. Maximum Indian immigrants in USA belong to Patel community. Patels dominate motel industries in USA.
When I witnessed first rally asking for Anamat in Surat, I saw people joining the rally in their Mercedes cars. Can you imagine a guy coming in a Mercedes to ask for the stamp of backward class? Indigestible. Isn’t it?
(Photo Courtesy: Jaydip Parikh)
Majority of ministers who run Gujarat, belong to the Patel community including Chief Minister. Even you said in your rally that Patel is the most powerful community of the country. Then why do you need reservation?
Government keep entire population of a caste in mind while including them in reservation quota. I agree on the fact that there are many farmers in the Patel community who are suffering from the issue, but the community on the whole is not suffering from it. So I don’t think government would give reservation based on a minority number when the community on the whole is one of the wealthiest communities of Gujarat.
You said your brothers are not getting admissions in colleges due to your non-OBC status. Now, majority of Engineering colleges and other colleges of Gujarat are being run by Patels. Can’t these Patels come forward and offer seats to such Patels, who aren’t getting admission due to reservation system? No you can’t do that. Because, seats which aren’t allotted by government are literally sold in the name of management quota and NRI quotas. Now I would like to get on the point. I would like to share things which made me write this long letter to you.
Was your movement really peaceful?
It all started on a good note and entire day went peacefully. But suddenly the protest turned into riots. Why? Gujarati media and Patels are blaming police who suddenly imposed Lathi charge (Baton charge) on the rally. Well, do you know, what made them do this? No, most of us don’t know.
Government allowed you to carry out the rally and allotted you GMDC ground without any fees, because they wanted to hear you and your community. You went to the government to take permission to do Anshan andolan (Hunger strike), to which government didn’t give you permission. You were allotted the ground till evening. When the police came to you to ask you to vacant the ground after the allotted hours, you denied them to vacant the ground. Which forced them to arrest you. And the same came as a disaster for all of us. Public started giving reaction to your arrestment; which made police to impose Lathi Charge. I’m not saying that the police was innocent. They were not ordered to do so. So they were at fault too.
After the Lathi charge, the rally became violent. They started stone pelting in the city, they started setting buses and other public properties on fire. I mean let’s be honest. Whatever reason they had, is this the right way to protest against something? The riot spread in entire state from the city in just seconds. It started in Surat, Mehsana, Morbi, Rajkot, Vadodara and other parts of the city in just few minutes of what happened in Ahmedabad. Government was forced to impose curfew and section 144 in several parts of Gujarat. The community became brutal. They started setting police stations on fire. They started stone pelting on ministers’ homes. They damaged a lot of public property in span of just an hour. Seeing the situations, police released you. And just after a second of your release, you declared Gujarat Bandh. Who are you to declare bandh?
(Photo Courtesy: City Tadka Surat)
Second day started. We thought things will become better. But it got worse. More people came out on roads to damage public properties, to demonstrate your POWER! You were fighting for your community. Why should all Gujaratis keep close on your orders? Some dared to open their shops and offices. You came and started damaging private properties of common men! What’s our fault dear Hardik? You want Anamat for your community from the government. Why are we suffering? Why are you damaging public properties which are bought with our tax money? This is not it. Your peaceful protest has took 8 innocent lives, including police men, common men and people from your community. Is this the way to ask for something?
Gujarat is the state, which hadn’t saw curfew since last 13 years. But your peaceful movement changed it. Government had to call army to handle you guys. Do you still think you’ve done something great?
Is police responsible for the riots?
You and your community are blaming police for the riots. Ok. I admit it. The police is playing important role in making the riots bigger. They are treating common man like dogs. But why? Did you think on it?
When you saw videos of police abusing and damaging public and their properties, did you think on it even for a second? When you heard police entering in societies to beat people, did you think what made them do this? Here is a possibility. Bunch of people pelted stones on police or set a bus on fire and ran away when police reached there. They ran to hid in their homes and police chased them to their societies. And when they knew police were following them, they started shooting it on a camera. And they shot angry policemen damaging private properties, but didn’t shoot what lead them to do that. This is just a possibility. I am not advocating police. They are equally responsible for what has happened as I stated earlier.
So my point is, as everyone is blaming, police is not the only one responsible for the protest turning into riots. Protesters are equally responsible.
Why we fellow Gujaratis are angry?
Firstly, you weren’t fighting for us. You were fighting for your community. So why were we imposed to close our offices? Have you any idea how much loss we’ve made in these two days? Common men have died too along with the police and protesters in your peaceful protest. And not only Patidars, we all Gujarati paid for the properties you damaged.
Impact of what has happened in Gujarat in last two days will be worse than what we’re thinking. This incident will be used for political debates; image of non-violent and peaceful Gujaratis won’t be same again; Gujaratis, especially Patels will become a new sensation for stand-up comedians. And a lot more to follow. Because of your wrong stand and attitude, entire Gujarat will have to suffer from the shame. Our state used to be known for the peace and harmony between people. But this one event will change our image. This is what is saddening fellow Gujaratis including me. Until this, I told you what all you did wrong. Now I have a solution too. What could have been done instead of what you did. Have a look.
So what can be the solution?
I see only two possible solutions here.
1. Either remove entire caste based reservation system and make this country free from reservations.
2. Or remove caste based reservation and introduce EBC (Economically Backward Class). In which reservation is given on the basis of your economical situation and not the caste. In this case, those who are wealthy and comes under current reservation quota, will get eliminated and the needy from other castes will get included in the reservation quota. So this is the best option available right now.
If you had asked for reservation free India, my friend, not only lacs of Patels, but crores of Gujaratis like me would have joined you in the movement. But you fought for all wrong reasons and that too, just for your community. Please don’t show your power to the people of Gujarat. If we’ll get united against you, you will forget your power forever. We are Gujaratis. We are known for our unity and peace. You might have forgotten it in the greed of leadership and fame, but we have not. Let’s not divide our country in the name of caste. Let’s stop going backward. Let’s together make our state and country a better place to live!
Jay Jay Garvi Gujarat. Jay Hind.
– Another 22 year old Gujarati
Impact of this Open Letter
After we posted this letter on our Facebook page on 27th August 2015, the post went viral. Lakhs of people read this letter and thousands of them are sharing it on social media. Writer of this letter and the founder of BuddyBits, Nishit K Jariwala, was invited by Times Now on a debate on reservation with Arnab Goswami in their program Newshour. The episode aired on Times Now on 31st August 2015, where Nishit shared his views about the reservation and co-panellists and Arnab Goswami appreciated the idea of reservation based on economy rather than caste.
Entire debate can be found here on official YouTube Channel of Newshour.