Former BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya was picked up by a team of Ahmedabad Crime Branch from Dhule in Maharashtra in connection with his alleged involvement in Bitcoin case on Sunday. Kotadiya had gone underground after his name popped up in the investigation by the Gujarat CID (crime) in the multi-crore case earlier this year.
Kotadiya was detained during a raid on residential premises in Amalner town in Dhule district of Maharashtra by the crime branch and was taken to Ahmedabad. “He was detained from a house in Amalner town in Dhule this morning. We brought him to Ahmedabad late in the evening. We are in the process of handing him over to CID (Crime),” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Deepan Bhadran told The Indian Express.
Kotadiya, who was BJP MLA from Dhari between 2012-17 was on the run for last four months after CID (crime) summoned him in connection with the case registered under IPC Sections 364-A (kidnapping for ransom), 384 (extortion) and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The probe agency had filed the case on April 9 this year after Shailesh Bhatt, a builder based out of Surat filed a complaint alleging that he and his friend Kirit Paladiya were kidnapped and beaten up by Anant Patel, then police inspector of Local Crime Branch (LCB) of Amreli on February 23. The builder had alleged that the police inspector and his team comprising an assistant sub-inspector and eight police constables forced Paladiya to transfer 200 Bitcoins worth Rs 12 crore to another account.
The CID had arrested Anant Patel and Jagdish Patel, then superintendent of Amreli police, for kidnapping the builder and extorting money from him. The two police officials are still in judicial custody. However, during the course of the investigation, police found that Kotadiya was in touch with accused police officers and that he was involved in extorting money from the victims. The investigating agency had repeatedly summoned Kotadiya for getting his statement recorded but the politician did not show up. Eventually, the investigating agency moved the court which issued a non-bailable warrant, and later declared him a proclaimed offender.
“He was the planner of the whole thing. He brought Amreli police and Ketan Patel on board and got extortion money. We have already recovered Rs 25 lakh extortion money paid to him. In all, we will have to recover around Rs 55-60 lakh from him,” Deepankar Trivedi, Deputy Inspector General of Polic, CID (crime) said.
Police say that Kirit Paladiya was also part of the conspiracy to extort 176 Bitcoins worth Rs 9 crore from Bhatt and the money was later shared among Paladiya, policemen and Kotadiya. CID (crime) had arrested Paladiya on May 4.
Police had also arrested one Nankubhai, an acquaintance of Kotadiya and recovered Rs 25 lakh cash from him. Police say that the money was part of Kotadiya’s share in the booty. Police later also booked Bhatt after it was revealed that the Surat builder was involved in another kidnapping and extorting cryptocurrency worth Rs 155 crore. He has been on the run since.
Kotadiya is the nephew of former union minister Manu Kotadiya, he was elected MLA from Dhari Assembly constituency in 2012 as a candidate of Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), an outfit floated by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel. However, the GPP had later merged with the BJP and Kotadiya too had become an MLA of the ruling party. After Hardik Patel and others launched an agitation demanding reservation for the Patidar community, Kotadiya had openly supported the stir and had appealed Patidars to defeat the BJP in 2015 panchayat polls in the state. The BJP had not given him the ticket to seek reelection from Dhari seat in the Assembly poll held in December last year.