Four visits, six months, numerous meetings
According to the police, the Gujarat con artist Kiran Patel made four trips to Jammu and Kashmir, every lasting around 3 and 5 days, over six months up until March of this year. During these trips, he came into contact with two IAS officers in addition to several junior officials, scheduled meetings for at least three Gujarat industrialists with influential government officials, and socialized with numerous local BJP and RSS officials.
A thorough investigation into Patel’s activities in Kashmir has been conducted, along with interviews with those he spoke with in different districts and more than a dozen officials in Srinagar and Jammu, to determine how he was given such a pass.
According to The News Agency, Trilok Singh Chauhan, an RSS representative centered in Rajasthan, and Baseer ul Haq Chaudhary, an IAS official from the 2015 group and the deputy commissioner of Pulwama, was responsible for everything from laying out the authoritative red carpet to stepping up his protection with a bullet-proof car, two bodyguard vehicles and a few armed men from Sashastra Seema Bal.
In reply to an inquiry for remark, Chaudhary flatly refused. The police are questioning Chauhan. A senior RSS official claimed Chauhan had worked as a “vistarak” in J&K after being contacted.
Social media sites have spread alleged clips of Patel monitoring the snow-covered Gulmarg hills with a squad of armed security guards surrounding him, as well as clips of a caravan of cars following him winding through a Valley town.
After speaking with sources and authorities, the series of activities leading up to Patel’s visits was pieced together to tell the tale of how governance and the establishment let their standards slip:
Time: 25th to 27th October 2022
# With his wife and daughter, Patel flies into Srinagar. According to sources, Pulwama DC Chaudhary asks Kashmir Sheikh Zulfikar, SSP (Security) of the J&K Police, to give protection for him. Acquires a bulletproof car, two escort cars, and a dozen SSB gunmen. Zulfikar opted not to respond.
# Before meeting the SHO of the Nishat Police station, Gauhar Hussain, Patel meets with local BJP leaders, including the media’s point man, Manzoor Bhat. Hussain did not respond. Bhat acknowledged the meeting.
Time: 6th to 8th February 2023
# At Pulwama DC’s request, Patel acquires the same protection on his subsequent trip. This time, a Gujarati businessman by the name of Amit Pandya is with him (son of Hitesh Pandya, Additional PRO in the Gujarat CMO, who was asked to quit).
# Sets an appointment between Pandya and Pulwama DC, at which Pandya, according to sources, presents to the DC on smart skyscrapers as a “business venture.” When contacted by The News Agency, Hitesh Pandya confirmed that Amit had traveled to J&K with Patel in February “for business purposes” with his approval.
# Visits Kulgam’s Aherbal waterfalls and Gulmarg. Also travels Uri, has photos taken nearby Aman Setu on the LoC, and posts them online.
Time: 24th to 28th February
# Patel makes numerous trips to Pulwama and Doodhpathri in Budgam and contacts IAS officials like Ming Sherpa, MD, JKTDC. They discuss the renovation of the Centaur Hotel. Sherpa refused to respond when asked about it.
# Accompanied by Pandya and a Gujarati doctor named Hardik Chandana who was eager to hold a medical conference in Pulwama. An appointment was made to meet with DC Pulwama.
# Meets with Gujarati steel merchant Jay Sitapara; offers assistance in establishing apple cold storage space; drives him to Ahmedabad. Authorities are questioning Pandya, Chandana, and Sitapara. According to police, Patel forced them to pay for his lodging and travel expenses.
Time: 2nd March 2023
# According to sources, Patel arrives in Srinagar from Ahmedabad unaware that his cover has been blown. Police stand guard until Patel arrives at the Lalit Grand Hotel in Dal Lake. When confronted, he attempts to flush down his forged PMO visiting cards.
Patel, who was detained on March 2, is currently in custody.
The red carpet’s political underpinnings
Chauhan is the man pulling the strings, according to Srinagar police sources. He was active in Jammu and Kashmir between 2006 and 2008. Chauhan arrived in J&K for the Amarnath Yatra in July 2022 and became stranded because of landslides. According to police sources, he was introduced to Pulwama DC Chaudhary by a local photographer.
Sources claim that Chaudhary, who was referred to by coworkers as “competent and ambitious,” “committed” to Chauhan and “assisted” his visit to the shrine. Additionally, sources said, he requested Chauhan to introduce him to “people in Delhi.”
According to police sources, Chaudhary went to meet Patel at the Lalit Grand Hotel the day after SSP (Security) Zulfikar had provided him with security on October 25 of last year. Patel displayed a fake business card on which was written, “Additional Director (Planning and Strategy) in the Prime Minister’s Office.” According to sources, Chaudhary requested that Zulfikar offer one more armed guard (in addition to a bulletproof car and one-armed guard vehicle).
According to protocol, any VIP or important government official can only receive security after proper permission from the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) in the UT administration.
Revealing his cover
Patel’s cover was blown on two different levels later that month. The PMO website revealed that there was no officer with this name in the PMO when Budgam DC Fakhruddin Hamid began his investigation on February 24.
He consulted with all relevant administration personnel, including Deputy Commissioners and bureaucrats, to be sure.
He informed the CEO of the Doodhpathri Development Authority on March 1 that Patel was returning and asked him not to entertain him any longer after the CEO had received a call from Patel informing him of his impending visit. Hamid declined to comment, but on March 2 he did send a report to his superiors.
On March 29, the J&K Home Department requested a report from Divisional Commissioner for Kashmir Vijay Kumar Bidhuri after asking him to look into several facets of Patel’s visits to Kashmir.
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