Hardik Patel
Hardik Patel wipes his face during a news conference in New Delhi on August 30, 2015Reuters

Patidar community leader Hardik Patel's "disappearance" led the Gujarat High Court to hear a late night petition on Tuesday, after which it ordered the state government to produce the 22-year-old in the court by Thursday. 

An associate of Patel had filed a habeas corpus petition on Tuesday claiming that he had been "illegally detained" by the Gujarat police.

However, Patel's lawyer has now said that he is in Halwad, which is 155km from Ahmedabad, NDTV reported. Hardik Patel reportedly texted his lawyer BM Mangukiya and said he will be returning to Ahmedabad on Wednesday. 

The Gujarat police had said that Hardik Patel disappeared when they tried to detain him in Aravalli district. 

"As we came to know about it, our police team went there to detain him but he ran away from there to evade detention," Inspector General of Police Hasmukh Patel told the Press Trust of India.

However, the members of Patel community accused the police of detaining their leader. 

"The police claim that he escaped the police and disappeared but we are apprehending that the police have arrested him and is not disclosing," a member of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which Hardik Patel launched recently to demand an OBC quota for Patels, told The Hindu

Justices MR Shah and KJ Thaker of the Gujarat High Court heard the habeas corpus petition at 1.20 am on Wednesday and issued an order to the state government at 2.30 am to produce Hardik Patel in the court on Thursday. 

The court has asked the Gujarat government, the director general of police, the range inspector general and the Arvali district superintendent of police to file a reply by Wednesday. 

The Gujarat police have filed a case against Patel for holding rallies without permission, and have called him a "criminal". 

"He is a criminal, not a leader of any community or any agitation. He is trying to instigate people to turn violent in the name of agitation," IG Hasmukh Patel told The Hindu.

Hardik Patel had led a massive rally in Ahmedabad last month to demand reservation for Patel youths in government jobs and educational institutions, and it was followed by several days of violence that led to at least five deaths and destruction across the state. 

The youth leader, who has become the face of the Patel agitation, has given an open challenge to Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi that he will not allow the "lotus to bloom" in the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat unless their demands are met. 

In fact, the Patel protests have even reached the United States with members of the Patidar community there planning to stage demonstrations when Modi arrives in the US this week.