Former BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya was picked up by Gujarat Police from Amalner in Maharashtra’s Dhule district on Sunday in the multi-crore Bitcoin extortion case, three months after a court proclaimed him as an absconder.
A team of Ahmedabad Crime Branch raided a residence at Amalner town and picked him up from there.
“We brought him to Ahmedabad late in the evening. We are in the process of handing him over to the CID-Crime. He was hiding at a house belonging to a contractor from Gujarat,” Deputy Commissioner of Police of Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Deepan Bhadran, told The Indian Express.
Kotadiya, who was BJP MLA from Dhari from 2012 to 2017, was on the run for the last four months after the CID-Crime summoned him in connection with the Bitcoin extortion case lodged on April 9.
The case was filed on a complaint filed by a Surat-based builder, Shailesh Bhatt, who had alleged that he and his friend, Kirit Paladiya, were abducted and beaten up by a police team of Amreli Local Crime Branch led by the then inspector Anant Patel. The builder had alleged that the police inspector and his team comprising an assistant sub-inspector and eight constables forced Paladiya to transfer 200 Bitcoins worth Rs 12 crore to another account.
The CID-Crime arrested Anant Patel and other accused policemen. Even the then Amreli Superintendent of Police Jagdish Patel was arrested on charges of kidnapping and extortion. While the inspector and the SP are still in judicial custody, other policemen are out on bail. However, during the course of investigation, police found that former BJP MLA Kotadiya was in touch with the accused police officers and that he was involved in the extortion.
The investigating agency had repeatedly summoned Kotadiya for recording his statement, but he failed to show up. Eventually, the CID-Crime moved court in May this year, and a non-bailable warrant was issued against Kotadiya.
The following month, the court declared the former BJP MLA a proclaimed absconder.
“He was the planner of the whole thing. We have already recovered Rs 25 lakh extortion money paid to him. In all, we will have to recover around Rs 55 lakh to Rs 60 lakh from him,” Deputy Inspector General of Police (CID-Crime) Deepankar Trivedi said.
Trivedi said that they were in the process of taking Kotadiya’s possession from Ahmedabad Crime Branch and that it was a matter of time the politician would be arrested formally.
Police said that Paladiya was also a 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.
The CID-Crime had arrested Paladiya on May 4. A few days later, police arrested one Nankubhai, an acquaintance of Kotadiya and recovered Rs 25 lakh from him. Police said that the money was part of Kotadiya’s share in the extortion. Later on, police also booked Bhatt after it was revealed that the Surat builder had allegedly kidnapped one Dhaval Mavani and extorted cyptocurrency worth Rs 155 crore from him at gunpoint. Bhatt has been on the run since.
Kotadiya, who had extended his support to Patidar leader Hardik Patel, is the nephew to former union minister Manu Kotadiya.