Man posing as ‘PMO official’ in Kashmir sent to judicial custody

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Kiran Bhai Patel, who posed as a PMO official and got the requisite perks, including a bulletproof car and scores of security personnel, had three cases registered against him in his home state Gujarat, police said on Friday.

He was arrested here on March 3 but his deception that tricked security forces of the high security zone that is Jammu and Kashmir has come to light only now. Patel was in police custody until Friday and has now been sent to jail for 14 days, officials said.

The story of the alleged conman from Gujarat unravelled earlier this month when he visited Kashmir for the third time, each time passing himself off as Additional Director (Strategy and Campaigns) Prime Minister’s Office, New Delhi.

Three cases under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including cheating, forgery and breach of trust, dating back to 2017 are registered against him in police stations in Ahmedabad and Baroda, police said.

Purported videos of Patel surveying the snow slopes of Gulmarg with a posse of armed security personnel around him and of a convoy of vehicles accompanying him weaving through a Valley town have been circulated widely across social media platforms.

He had even visited the last post at Uri in north Kashmir, posing for pictures at a bridge treated as a Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

In a statement, police said the CID wing of Jammu and Kashmir Police gave information on March 2 about the arrival of an impersonator who had checked into the Hotel Lalit Grand in Srinagar.

Detailing what had happened, the statement said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rakesh Balwal sent a team to the hotel. He was identified as Kiran Bhai Patel, son of Juddesh Bhai Patel, a resident of Ahmedabad. He was questioned but his replies were found to be suspicious and he was taken to a police station in Nishat close by where he made a confession, police said.

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

According to police, Patel held several meetings with Jammu and Kashmir bureaucrats, selling them dreams of boosting apple production, engaging youth in national building and holding seminars to give a fillip to the horticulture industry.

However, everyone asked Patel to come through official channels for the earmarking of funds for the so-called projects being offered by him, officials said.

He has cases filed under various IPC sections for cheating and forgery at the Nishat police station.

During an earlier visit, Patel travelled to Gulmarg, claiming the government had tasked him to look at improvement of hotel facilities in the area, officials said.

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