Dahod District police on Tuesday formally arrested Imran Gudala, the prime accused in the alleged murder of Jhalod municipal councillor and BJP leader Hiren Patel, who was killed in a hit and run incident on September 27. Police have also begun a search for Amit Katara, the son of former Dahod MP Babu Katara and brother of sitting Congress MLA from Jhalod Assembly constituency Bhavesh Katara, after Gudala allegedly named him as a conspirator in the murder.
The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had nabbed Gudala from Mewat in Haryana Monday, following which the Dahod police brought him to Jhalod, where he was subjected to a Covid-19 test and formally arrested.
Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dahod, Paresh Solanki, who is also the investigating officer in the case said, “We brought him from Ahmedabad this (Tuesday) afternoon, and after he tested negative for Covid-19, we arrested him around 1.45 pm. We will produce him before the local magistrate virtually tomorrow.” Gudala, who has been on the run since October end.
Solanki said the police are in the process of recording his official statement. “He has told us and the ATS that he had facilitated the contract killing (of Patel) with the kill money at the behest of Amit Katara. We are investigating his allegation and have begun looking for Katara, who is currently underground. Once we seek Gudala’s remand and are able to get Katara, we will bring them together for questioning,” he added.
Katara’s wife, Kinjal, was the president of the Congress-led Jhalod Municipality from February 2018 to August this year. It was after a high-stake election for the president and vice-president’s posts in the second phase of the five-year term of the local body that Patel is said to have tilted the scales in favour of the BJP by orchestrating a “cross-voting” from three Congress members.
The Dahod police, which has arrested six accused in the case so far, had issued instructions to its local crime branch on October end to look for Gudala alias Immu, after Jhalod resident Ajay Kalal and a few other accused named him during the probe.
Gudala is accused of facilitating Rs 4 lakh to these accused, who had hatched a plot to stage a hit and run to eliminate Patel. The six arrested men include Kalal, 2002 Sabarmati train carnage convict Irfan Pada, Ujjain residents Sajjansinh Chauhan and Mohammed Samir Mujawar, the owner of a roadside eatery in Mahidpur in Madhya Pradesh Balram Bhuvanji, who allegedly facilitated the accused to meet at his eatery to plan the murder, Salim Baju Shaikh alias Kala, who fetched one of the three cars used in the crime from his brother.
Gudala is also alleged to have a close political link with Babu Katara.