Three days after Dahod police arrested four people suspected to be involved in the alleged murder of local BJP leader Hiren Patel in Jhalod town of Gujarat’s Dahod district on September 27, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Jhalod division, on Saturday directed the Local Crime Branch (LCB) and the Special Operations Group (SOG) to nab two more alleged conspirators.
The duo’s names emerged during the investigation into what the police believe is a contract killing.
Deputy SP B V Jadhav has directed the LCB and SOG teams to search and detain a Jhalod resident, identified as Imran Gudala, and another person named Irfan Basti, who comes from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh.
The police said Gudala had allegedly joined accused Ajay Kalal in facilitating the contract of Rs 4 lakh to kill Patel.
Jadhav told The Sunday Express that Gudala and Basti names emerged during questioning of the four accused arrested on Wednesday.
The four – Irfan Pada, who was on parole after being convicted in the Sabarmati Express train burning case of 2002; Ajay Kalal; and Ujjain residents Sajjansinh Chauhan and Mohammed Samir Mujawar — have been sent to seven-day police custody a local court.
Jadhav said the probe so far indicates political rivalry could be the likely murder motive. “Although the rivalry is longstanding, the recent turn of events during the elections for the president and vice-president of Jhalod Municipality is emerging as the trigger,” he said. “Gudala, whom Kalal has named, was part of the conspiracy and facilitated the money for the contract, which was given to Pada.”
Basti, Jadhav said, was part of the group of contract killers from Ujjain, and was present on the day of the crime.
Jadhav said Gudala’s arrest will throw light on the case. “We know Gudala is close to the family of the sitting MLA. One of their family members was the outgoing municipality president. Once we arrest and question him, we will get a clear picture of the (murder) motive and the others who could be involved,” he said.
The police are yet to recover the vehicle used to run into Patel, which resulted in his death. Jadhav said: “So far, we have confiscated two other vehicles involved in the crime. A sports utility vehicle that was used to ferry the contract killers and conduct a recce (before Patel’s murder), and a car belonging to Pada, in which he travelled from Godhra to Dahod.”
On September 27, when Patel was out for a morning walk around 6 am, the accused allegedly ran him over at Muwada junction in Jhalod towan, the police had said.
Local BJP leaders and Patel’s family members had alleged that he had received threats from political rivals after the civic body elections on August 25.
Patel had suffered injuries in an assault by a member of the Katara family in 2008-09 during the APMC elections, allegedly for not supporting the family candidate.
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