Seeking the resignation of Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rajya Sabha MP, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said here today that the hospital that employed one of the two youths arrested for suspected ISIS links in Gujarat was being “managed” by Patel. And that he should explain the circumstances behind employing the youth and why the accused resigned days before he was arrested.
“I congratulate the ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) for having caught two terrorists ( lawyer Ubed Mirza, 29, and Kasim Steamerwala, 31) in time. Had it not been so… a big disaster would have happened,” said Rupani in a late-evening briefing held at BJP headquarters in Koba, Gandhinagar on Friday. He said that the terrorists had planned to attack a Hindu Godman, Hindu shrines and a synagogue. They were well-prepared with passports and visas to flee abroad, Rupani said.
“Ahmed Patel is the person running the show at the hospital in Bharuch where he (Kasim, a laboratory technician) was employed. Patel was earlier a trustee of the hospital from which he resigned in 2014. However, he continued to run the show at the hospital where President Pranab Mukherjee was invited to inaugurate the premises in 2016,” said Rupani alleging that Patel had hosted the event and was present on stage. IS suspects: Advocate from business family, technician eyeing job in Jamaica
On October 23, 2016, then President Mukherjee had attended the inauguration of the renovated Sardar Patel Hospital and Heart Institute (SPHHI) and had said: “I am happy to be associated with an institution that carries the name of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who united 570 principalities into the Indian Union with 1,800 dialects and seven major religions of the world.”
According to the hospital’s website Ahmed Patel had been associated with the foundation of the hospital. In 1981, Morari Bapu raised funds for the hospital by doing a Ram katha. In 1986 when Ahmed Patel was GPCC president he helped raise funds. Jayesh N Patel, a trustee of the hospital denied that “Ahmed Patel or any of his family members are connected with the hospital and the trust in any away’’. In a statement issued this evening, the hospital trustee said that “some elements are levelling baseless allegations against the hospital’’.
“I strongly condemn it’’, said the trustee. “Suspect Mohammed Kasim Steamerwala was recruited as Echo Technician through due procedures’’. The hospital did not mention when he was hired. Its statement said, “The suspect resigned on October 4, 2017 voluntarily and was relieved from duty on October 24’’. “The hospital trust had no knowledge at all about the personal activities of the suspect’’, the release said. “The hospital trustees strongly condemn the activities of the suspect.”
At the press conference, Rupani said, “Just two days before being caught, they had resigned or their resignation were procured. This looks suspicious. What is the connection. Did you know or did you didn’t? You have to tell the nation. Both Congress and Rahul Gandhi should also respond about the connection. It was a danger to the security of the nation. Doubts have risen in the minds of people. We are demanding that Ahmed Patel should resign from Rajya Sabha and Ahmedbhai and Congress should clarify on the matter,” Rupani added.
Union HRD Minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told The Indian Express: “The BJP is fighting elections on the plank of development in Gujarat. But what has been exposed by the Gujarat ATS is alarming. The ISIS terrorists nabbed by the Gujarat ATS were planning to attack Jewish religious places and leaders. One of them was working with a hospital that has been patronised by Congress leader Ahmed Patel. Now Congress owes an explanation on this,”
Patel, on his part, said the allegations were baseless. “My party and I appreciate the ATS’s effort to nab the two terrorists. I demand strict and speedy action against them. The allegations put forward by BJP are completely baseless. We request that matters of national security not be politicised keeping the elections in mind. Let’s not divide peace loving Gujaratis while fighting terrorism,” he tweeted.
Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, Congress’s Randeep Surjewala alleged that Rupani’s allegations were a ruse to hide his government’s failure in the run-up to elections. “The BJP is jittery as it is facing imminent defeat in Gujarat.” “The facts are unequivocal. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel hospital in Bharuch is a charitable hospital employing close to 200 employees. Ahmed Patel or any family member are neither its trustees nor have anything to do with recruitment or engagement of employees,” Surjewala told The Indian Express.
“A person worked in this hospital for five months as a temporary technician. After he resigned and went away, he has been picked by ATS for his alleged connection with the ISIS and alleged plan to attack a Jewish synagogue in Ahmedabad…The BJP government should take action with full force. But a frustrated BJP facing imminent defeat is resorting to levelling reckless allegation vis a vis Ahmed Patel with not a whisper or an iota of truth.”
“Who took notorious terrorist Maulana Masood Azhar and two others to Kandahar? And what about Eknath Khadse, who had resigned as a minister in Maharashtra? So who is linked with terrorists? Who invited Pakistan’s ISI to Pathankot airbase after terror attack? So don’t give lectures to the Congress party. It is the BJP which is linked with those who want to divide the country,” he said.
On Wednesday, the Gujarat ATS had arrested Steamerwala and Mirza for allegedly plotting ISIS inspired lone-wolf terror attack on a synagogue in Ahmedabad. According to the FIR, Steamerwala resigned a day before and was “planning and preparing for emigration (Hijrah) to Jamaica in immediate future and indulge in jihad under guidance of Abdullah el-Faisal, a radical preacher based in Jamaica.” The FIR also claims that Steamerwala was in touch with the preacher. It says that he had obtained work visa for Jamaica “on pretext of working as Echo-Cardiogram Technician in a hospital in Jamaica.”