Ahmedabad:Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel, and two of his aides, on Wednesday were sentenced to two years in prison by a local court, which found them guilty in the 2015 Visnagar rioting case in Gujarat.

Hardik, 25, who was the face of the Patidar community’s agitation for reservations in jobs and education, was found guilty, along with Lalji Patel and A.K. Patel, of rioting, arson, damage to property and unlawful assembly. The court also fined the three 50,000 each.

Patel, who managed to get a bail, was named in the complaint after the rally in Mehsana district on 23 July turned violent, leading to arson.

Reacting to the court’s order, Patel said in his social media messages that he will overcome all hurdles and continue his fight for the rights of the poor.

In one of his tweets, Patel also questioned the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) pre-poll promise in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections of withdrawing all cases against members of the Patidar community filed during the quota stir.

The Leuva and Kadva Patels do not enjoy quota benefits as their members are considered to be upper caste and makes up for 12-14% of the state’s vote bank.

On 25 August 2015, Patel became the face of the community when he addressed a rally in Ahmedabad, which was attended by about half a million people. It turned violent following Patel’s brief arrest and the police had to resort to lathicharge on the protesters. Subsequently, violence spread across the state, prompting the government to call in the army. As many as 14 people from the Patel community were killed.

In October 2015, police arrested Patel for inciting violence during the quota agitation movement. He was charged with two cases of sedition. The Gujarat high court had in 2016 barred him from entering the state for a period of six months.

Patel, who extensively campaigned during the state elections last year, had lent his support to the Congress party in his fight against the ruling BJP government. The “quota warrior" recently announced an indefinite fast from 25 August to press for his reservation demands.

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