GUJARAT — Malini Patel, the wife of the ‘conman’ Kiran Patel who was arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police for fraud and impersonation, was taken into custody by the Gujarat Police on Tuesday in connection with a cheating case registered against the couple by a former Gujarat minister’s brother Jagdish Chavda, police said.
Malini Patel was arrested from Bharuch district’s Jambusar town in connection with a first information report (FIR) registered against the couple on March 22 after Kiran Patel’s arrest from a luxury Srinagar hotel. The FIR was registered under sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 170 (impersonating a public servant) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, the Ahmedabad crime branch statement said according to the news agency KDC.
Her husband, Kiran Patel was arrested from a Srinagar hotel on March 2 for posing as an ‘Additional Secretary’ in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and enjoying security cover besides other hospitality. Soon after, his wife Malini Patel spoke out in his defence, contending that he was an engineer who had gone to Kashmir for development work. “He has done nothing wrong,” she said following his arrest.
As investigating agencies turned the spotlight on the Patel family, Jagdish Chavda approached the police to seek the registration of a case against them. Kiran Patel allegedly told him too that he worked at the PMO and that he was also co-owner of a popular cafe in Ahmedabad and was into renovating buildings, police said.
In February last year, the couple allegedly convinced Chavda to spend on renovating his sprawling bungalow in the Shilaj area that he was trying to sell. While the renovation work was on, Jagdish Chavda alleged that the couple moved into his bungalow, complete with his nameplate at the entrance, and had even organized a house-warming ceremony.
Chavda alleged in his complaint to the police that when he confronted the couple, they vacated the place and promised to return the ₹35 lahks that he had paid for the renovation. However, in August last year, Chavda alleged that he got a notice from an Ahmedabad court for a civil suit filed by the Patels, claiming ownership of the property.
Chavda is the brother of Jawahar Chavda, who exited the Congress to join the BJP and was a minister in a previous government when Vijay Rupani was chief minister.
During questioning, Malini Patel allegedly told the police that her husband and brother-in-law Manish Patel earlier operated a travel agency in Ahmedabad which ran into losses. Police said she underlined that she wasn’t aware of what her husband does for a living and that they carried out some renovation work in Chavda’s bungalow and also invited some guests for ‘Vastu Puja’ when the owner was away, the police statement said.
It added that Kiran Patel, wife Malini and their two daughters travelled to Jammu and Kashmir on a holiday in October last year and February this year and stayed at the five-star hotel from where he was arrested on March 2.
Malini Patel allegedly told the police that his husband managed the police security and government vehicles due to his ‘connections’ and that the security cover was necessary for their safety in the Valley. She told the police that her husband didn’t speak on the topic when she asked him about it.
After staying in the Valley for two to three days, the family returned home to Ahmedabad in February. A few days later, Kiran Patel again travelled to Kashmir with his friend and he was arrested on this visit.
Apart from the bungalow case, Malini Patel is also named as an accused along with her husband and brother-in-law in a fraud case in which a resident of Naroda, Rahul Parmar, alleged that they convinced him to become a part of their business of renting cars to the Vadtal Swaminarayan temple.
According to the FIR registered in 2019, Parmar alleged that he and his friends gave the Patels 16 cars worth ₹1 crore in 2017 but did not get back the vehicles or his share of the profits.
Kiran Patel has been booked in four other cases of fraud including an FIR lodged against him by a group of farmers on August 27, 2019, at Bayad Police Station, the police statement said.
The Ahmedabad Crime Branch in Gujarat state has registered a new FIR against Kiran Patel who conned the security establishment in Kashmir into believing him to be a PMO official and got the requisite perks prior to his arrest earlier this month.
Reliable sources said that the Crime Branch had deputed a two-member team to Srinagar to take over the custody of Kiran Patel from Srinagar Police, but was denied as the investigation of the high-profile case is in the initial stage.
On Thursday, after hearing the arguments of the counsel representing Patel and additional public prosecutor, the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar Raja Mohammad Tasleem found the bail plea “devoid of any merit”.
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