Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday met a group of people complaining about what they said were atrocities by police in Gujarat during the anti-reservation agitation and asking for a changeover to a system of reservations based on economic status.
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Earlier, at least 250 people from Sardar Patel Group US-Canada (SPG) held a protest outside the United Nations as Modi addressed the General Assembly. They carried both portraits of Modi welcoming him and placards about the alleged atrocities and calling for changes in the reservation system.
Alpesh Patel, who said he led the SPG delegation that met Modi, told IANS that they gave him 25 petitions seeking action on the alleged police atrocities and a change in the reservation system. In addition, he said, 2,000 letters supporting the demands were sent through the Consulate General here.
During their meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Patel, a businessman from Central New Jersey, said: "Modi listened to us and told us that action was being taken on the atrocities in Gujarat. The High Court was looking into it."
Modi did not react to their request for change in the reservation system, Patel said. They had told him that the current caste-based reservation system should be changed to one that is based on economic status.
One of those at the protest, R.K. Patel from Boston, explained their contradictory signs of welcome and protest saying: "We are Indians first. We have a good prime minister and we welcome him. But we want him to do something about the atrocities in Gujarat and make the reservations economic and not caste."
In contrast to last year when hundreds turned up to cheer Modi, there were only about a dozen people from the Overseas BJP. But some members of the SPG joined them in holding up their banners and shouting slogans of welcome for Modi.
There was another protest across from them, separated by security barriers under the watchful of eyes of police, by Khalistan supporters. At least 500 of them held up signs demanding a referendum in Punjab and paraded an effigy of Modi.