Conman Patel: ‘Not given security when I asked,’ Srinagar judge reacts to lapses

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A court in Srinagar on Monday reserved orders on the bail plea of man from Gujarat, Kiran Bhai Patel, who conned the security establishment in Jammu and Kashmir into believing him to be a PMO official and got the requisite perks prior to his arrest earlier this month.

The prosecution opposed the bail plea, saying that the investigation in the case is still at infancy. On the other hand, the counsel representing the accused sought, arguing that the liberty of a person was sacrosanct and that there are no “serious” offences against him.

“I applied sometime back to seek a personal security officer but my request is yet to be approved. Then how is it possible that a man comes to Kashmir from Gujarat and gets a Z-plus security cover? What was the state doing all this time?” the judge observed.

The defence told the court that “his client has not committed any offence and that his liberty was curtailed by false allegations”. “Even if he managed to get security cover, whose negligence is it? How come an outsider comes and gets security without getting mandatory clearances in a region where security remains on the highest degree of alert.”

After hearing the submissions of the counsels, the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar Raja Mohammad Tasleem reserved the order to be pronounced on Thursday (March 23).

An FIR number 19 of 2023 was registered by Srinagar police in Police Station Nishat reads, “On 02-03-2023 a reliable information received by Police Station Nishat has revealed that a fraudster namely Kiran Bhai Patel son of Jagdesh Bhai Patel resident of Gujarat has by virtue of criminal intention indulged in activities within the jurisdiction of this police station and other parts of Kashmir valley and by employing high degree of forged means. Kiran Bhai has impersonated himself as a senior government official of India.”

“The said individual, by resorting to cheating, forgery and impersonation has duped gullible people and also intentionally induced people to do and also to omit to do activities, under a well-knit plan for securing monetary as well as material benefits,” reads the FIR.

The imposter had taken the J-K administration and security structure for a ride by securing Z-plus security cover, a bulletproof Mahindra Scorpio SUV, official accommodation at a five-star hotel, and a lot more.

As per reports Patel who by forged means was able to get security from the Jammu and Kashmir police and was staying at Hotel Lalit in Room no 1107. The ‘fraudster’ as per reports had visited multiple places in Kashmir including Doodpatri in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. At Doodhpathri the ‘fraudster’ was accompanied by a Tehsildar rank officer and official from the Tourism department.

Sources say Amit Hitesh Pandiya and Jay Sitapara from Gujarat, and Trilok Singh from Rajasthan were also staying with Patel at a five-star hotel in Srinagar and impersonating an official team from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The conman, as per reports, had called a SHO of central Kashmir’s Budgam district at a hotel here regarding some photos that were clicked by SHO during his visit.

On Friday, a local court in Srinagar sent Kiran Patel to judicial custody.

The fraudster as per FIR has been booked under section 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC at police station Nishat and further investigation into the matter is going on.

Jammu and Kashmir police has formed a three-member team headed by SP East Srinagar to investigate the case against alleged impersonator from Gujarat Kiran Bhai Patel.

The “PMO team” has been visiting Kashmir since October last year. Hours before Patel was arrested on 2 March following a tip off by Jammu and Kashmir CID.

The imposter, Kiran Bhai Patel, also held a series of meetings with officials and even visited forward areas near the Line of Control. He shared several videos and pictures of his ‘official visits’ in Kashmir surrounded by paramilitary guards, the last of which was on 2 March on Twitter.

The conman’s first visit to the valley was on 27 October last year. He came with his family. In subsequent visits, the other members of the “PMO team” joined him.

A senior officer said that it’s a major concern that an IAS introduced a conman as a PMO official, and the security wing of the police and other officials obliged with official protocol and Z plus security cover for such a long time.

The Police, in a statement, said that on 2nd of March 2023, CID wing of J-K Police gave information about the arrival of an impersonator in Kashmir.

“SSP Srinagar immediately sent a team led by SP East to Lalit hotel. The particulars of this person were found as Kiran Bhai Patel son of Juddesh Bhai Patel resident of Ahmadabad Gujarat who was impersonating himself as Additional Director (Strategy and campaigns) PMO New Delhi. As his replies were found suspicious, he was taken to Police Station Nishat wherein he admitted his crime,” the statement said.

Ten fake visiting cards and two mobiles were seized from him.

“A team of SP East Srinagar, SDPO Nehru Park, SHO Nishat are leading the investigation,” the spokesperson said.

The statement said that many relevant persons have been examined in this case. “Case is at initial stage of investigation. Further details of this case will be shared later on,” the police said.

The statement also said that there are three cases registered against the ‘fraudster’ in different Police stations in Gujarat: Raopura Police Station, Baroda city Case No I/0064/2019, Case Date: 7/8/2019 IPC 114, 294(KH), 406, 420, 5072, Naroda Police Station Ahmedabad City case No I/0066/2017 Case Date: 24/02/2017 IPC 120B, 406, 420 and Bayad Police Station, Aravali Case No I/0047/2019, Case Date: 22/08/2019 IPC 120B, 406, 420. (KDC)

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