On September 27, Jhalod Municipal Councillor and BJP leader Hiren Patel was murdered. Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) had arrested one accused named Imran Gudala alias Immu, the key conspirator in the case. According to the police, he has named Amit Katara, son of former Dahod MP, Babulal Katara, and brother of sitting Congress MLA Bhavesh Katara, as the one who ordered the murder of Patel.
Imran Gudala was on the run since October
The ATS had detained Imran Gudala from Mewat in Haryana on Sunday and brought him to Ahmedabad. Dahod district police will seek Gudala’s custody from ATS. Gudala was named as accused number seven. He was on the run since October. ATS officials said that Gudala has confessed that Amit Katara was the one who had ordered the murder of Hiren Patel.
Imtiyaz Shaikh, Superintendent of Police, Gujarat ATS, said, “Three days ago, home minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja held a meeting with Dahod police officers and also called ATS officers to the meeting to instruct that the accused must be arrested soon… we received information that he was hiding in Mewat in Haryana… He has said that he handed over the contract to bump off Patel at the behest of Amit Babu Katara.”
The Indian Express quoted Shaikh saying that Amit Katara facilitated the money to co-accused Ajay Kalal to execute the contract. “Kalal, in turn, gathered the team of executors,” added Shaikh. The ATS team searched several locations in the last few weeks. Shaikh said that they had been trying to arrest Gudala for days. “He eluded arrest for close to two-and-half months. This time, we had a confirmed input of his presence in Mewat in Haryana… We sought help from the local police… and detained Gudala on Sunday. Haryana police apprehended the person who sheltered him. We will now hand over Gudala’s custody to Dahod district police,” Shaikh said.
Six co-conspirators arrested so far
Dahod police have so far arrested six accused in the case. After Kalal named Gudala, they issued instructions to the local crime branch in October to look for him. As per the reports, he had facilitated finances of Rs.4 lakh to the accused. The six who were arrested in the case are:
- Irfan Pada. He is a 2002 Sabarmati train burning convict.
- Jhalod resident Ajay Kalal. He named Gudala as the key conspirator.
- Ujjain residents Sajjansinh Chauhan and Mohammed Samir Mujawar.
- Balram Bhuvanji. He owns a roadside Dhaba in Mahidpur in Madhya Pradesh and allegedly facilitated the accused to meet on his Dhaba to plan the “hit-and-run.”
- Salim Baju Shaikh alias Kala. He arranged one of the three cars used in the crime from his brother.
Gudala has closed links to Babu Katara in Jhalod. Teams from the Dahod Local Crime Branch (LCB) and Special Operations Group (SOG) were sent to arrest him. Another accused, Irfan Basti, was also detained by LCB and SOG. He was present when the accused rammed his Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) into Patel when he was out for his morning walk on September 27.
Paresh Solanki, the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Dohad said, “We will bring him to Dahod… and officially arrest him in the case of culpable homicide amounting to murder, in our territorial jurisdiction.” He further added that district police would question Gudala after formally seeking his remand from a local court. However, the ATS has already informed Dahod police that he has named Katara in the crime.
Death of Hiren Patel
On September 27, BJP councillor Hiren Patel had stepped out for a morning walk at 6 AM. The accused rammed his LMV into him at Muwada junction in Jhalod. The impact was so strong that Patel was fatally injured. As per the police, the accused did recce of the route Patel used to take for the morning walk.
Just two days before Gudala’s arrest, Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Gujarat cabinet minister for home affairs, had met Hiren Patel’s family and promised swift action. A week ago, Patel’s wife Bina had also passed away.