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Gujarat police evoke State terror law against gang

In a rare move, the Gujarat police have invoked stringent Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act (GujCTOC), a law with stringent provisions, against 14 members of a powerful gang involved in dozens of cases of extortion and land grabbing in Jamnagar.

The gang is allegedly operated by one Jayesh Patel, who is currently abroad since he fled the country in 2018. Out of those 14 persons who have been slapped with the GujCTOC, eight have already been arrested, while one was in jail.

“Five people including Jayesh Patel are at large and yet to be arrested,” said Jamnagar Superintendent of Police Deepan Bhadran, who was recently moved to Jamnagar after Jayesh Patel’s gang members became a major nuisance in the State.

Earlier, Mr. Bhadran was Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Ahmedabad crime branch.

While the kingpin of the gang, Jayesh Patel, is believed to be hiding in Dubai, the police have arrested eight of the 14 persons, including Atul Bhanderi, a sitting Bharatiya Janata Party Municipal Councillor of Jamnagar; Nilesh Toliya, a prominent builder; Vashram Miyatra, former Head Constable of the local crime branch; and Pravin Chovatiya, owner of a local newspaper.

Others arrested and booked were Mukesh Abangi; builder Jigar alias Jimmy Aalatiya; and their associates Anil Parmar and Praful Popat.

Another prime accused, Jaspal Jadeja, who was arrested earlier, was also booked under the GujCTOC.

Bhanderi is also accused in an offence of firing on a Professor of the Mahila College in November 2019, in a case of land grabbing.

In last few years, Jamnagar and its adjoining areas became “hot” places for extortion, land grabbing, encroachment, and forgery of land records and documents.

According to Mr. Bhadran, for the first time in Gujarat, a case has been registered under Section 4 of the GujCTOC, which pertains to possession of accountable property belonging to an organised crime syndicate.

He added that the police have filed half a dozen FIRs against the crime syndicate or gang operated by Jayesh Patel, who also figures in 41 other cases of murder, attempt to murder, extortion, land and property grabbing, and cheating in Jamnagar, Ahmedabad and other places.

Now the police would move to trace, evaluate and seize the properties of all accused persons.

In 2018, a leading local lawyer Kirit Joshi was reportedly killed by Jayesh Patel gang members when Mr. Joshi was fighting as a lawyer in a disputed land matter worth ₹100 crore.

“The gang members would identify a parcel of land, create fake records and make bogus sale deeds. After that, the original owner of the land would be contacted for compromise and settle the matter by extracting huge money as extortion,” Rajkot range Deputy Inspector General of Police Sandeep Singh had told media persons on Friday.

Following dozens of complaints about land and property grabbing and extortion from local industrialists, traders and businessmen, a special team under SP Bhadran was formed to crack the whip.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 3:22:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarat-police-evoke-state-terror-law-against-gang/article32894286.ece

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