Patidar Quota agitation leader leader Hardik Patel’s key aide Dinesh Bambhaniya and the latter’s business partner were arrested by Rajkot city police from near Mount Abu in Rajasthan on Tuesday in connection with a case of forgery and criminal conspiracy registered against them last month. A team of policemen, led by Bhaktinagar police inspector Viral Gadhvi arrested Bambhaniya and his business partner Rajesh Umretiya from Delwada near Mount Abu at 1:30 pm on Tuesday. The police party were on their way back to Rajkot with the twin accused and were expected to reach the city late in the night.
“Bambhaniya and Umretiya had been putting up in a hotel in Delwada for the last four days. Based a tip-off, we went to Delwada and arrested the duo when they ventured out of their hotel room,” Gadhvi told The Indian Express. The arrests of the duo come exactly a month after they were booked for forgery, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy by Bhaktinagar police on February 21 on the basis of a complaint filed by Bhambhaniya’s brother-in-law Suresh Maraviya. In his complaint, Maraviya, a whole-seller of grains who also owns a show-room of sarees had alleged that Bambhaniya conspired with officers of a public sector bank to usurp Rs1.97 crore from his bank account. He had named Bambhaniya, Umretiya and officers of Dena Bank branch on Debar road of the city as accused.
Maraviya had complained that that in 2013, Bambhaniya came to him and sought his financial help to shore up his business of ginning and spinning cotton yarn. Maraviya agreed and availed Rs1.97 crore worth of cash credit from Dena Bank branch on Debhar road. However, instead of giving the cheque-book to Maraviya, the bank officers gave it to Bambhaniya. The accused got transferred Rs1.97 crore in the account of Shreenathji Cotex Private Limited, a ginning and spinning firm promoted by Bambhaniya and others and having its factory near Jetpur in Rajkot district.
Not only this, the complaint reads, Bambhaniya forged Maraviya’s signature on 18 cheqeues and other documents to transfer the money into account of his company. Moraviya also alleged that Bambhaniya threatened him not to file a police complaint in this regard. After the Bhaktinagar police registered a case against him, Bhambhaniya, a member of the core group of Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) moved the Gujarat High Court seeking quashing of the FIR. “However, the accused withdrew his plea after the High Court observed that charges against him were serious and that it was not inclined to grant his application,” Gadhvi said.
The PI added that the High Court order had come around five days ago. This is at least fourth complaint against Bambhaniya for allegedly either loan default or of not making payment against goods that he had purchased, since July 2015 when he joined PAAS agitation demanding OBC status for Patel or Patidar community in the state. A native of Kamlapur village in Jasdan taluka of Rajkot district, Baambhaniya is nephew of former Jasdan MLA Bhikhabhai Bambhaniya and son-in-law of BJP leader Jasuben Korat.
Bhikhabhai’s daughter Shobhna is married to Maraviya. After police registered the case against him, Bambhaniya had denied the charge of cheating and forgery. He had told The Indian Express that it was true that the money was transferred in the account of his company but it was in form of payment against sale of goods to Maraviya. He had also alleged that his brother-in-law was pressured to file the complaint.
“My in-laws are associated with the BJP and my brother-in-law was also under tremendous pressure to file this complaint. The cash credit in question was later converted into loan. That too turned into a non-performing asset later on. When the matter reached court, my brother-in-law paid Rs70 lakh to the bank and promised to pay the balance in installments. If we had usurped the money, why would he make repayment?” Bambhaniya had questioned while claiming that it was a civil matter but police had treated it as a criminal offence.
However, the Bhaktinagar PI on Tuesday said that a criminal case was made out against Bambhaniya. “The complainant states that Bhambhaniya forged his signature on cheques. Forgery is a criminal offence,” said Gadhvi. Varun Patel, spokesman of PAAS claimed Bambhaniya’s arrest was part of a new strategy of the state government. “While we grant that the High Court did not provide Bambhaniya relief, his arrest is part of a new strategy of the government. Instead of filing complaints itself, the government is getting private individuals to implicate PAAS leaders and getting them arrested. The Rajkot city police are also apparently acting in a haste. Is it usual that a special police team will go as far away as Mount Abu to arrest an accused in a case of forgery,” said Varun.
The PI further said that manager of Dena Bank branch on Dhebar Road during whose tenure the offence was committed had died since.