Gujarat CMO official’s son part of fake PMO official’s team

Son of a PRO in Gujarat CMO was part of the team that came with a conman who posed as PMO official

SRINAGAR | Updated: 20 March, 2023 8:25 pm IST
Kiran Patel, who posed as fake PMO official, managed to get security from the J&K Police.

The two men who were accompanying the conman posing as a PMO official have been called by Jammu and Kashmir police for further investigation, according to sources. What has emerged is that one of Patel’s accomplices is the son of a Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel.

Gujarat conman Kiran Bhai Patel was arrested by the J&K police on March 3 and was sent to judicial custody on March 17. His companions, Amit Hitesh Pandya and Jay Sitapara, both residents of Gujarat, were let off as the police believed that they might have “fallen into the trap of the conman,” according to sources.

Amit Hitesh Pandya is the son of an official in the Gujarat Chief Minister’s office.

The men were part of the so-called “official team” led by conman Kiran Patel, who had taken the Jammu and Kashmir security and administration for a ride, securing Z-plus security cover and official accommodation at a five-star hotel, along with making high-profile visits to border areas and availing of other privileges.

Amit Pandya’s father, Hitesh Padya, who is a Public Relations Officer (PRO) at the Gujarat Chief Minister’s office, said he knows his son has been called for questioning by the police in Srinagar. He denied any wrongdoing by his son.

“I trust my son. He would never indulge in any such activity,” said Pandya. “I don’t know what the police have written about him. I would not like to comment on anything that I don’t know. If I had any solid information, I would have certainly shared it with you,” he added.

The police said the father of Amit Pandya has nothing to do with the issue. “Amit is 45 years old. He’s independently running a company and his father has no association with him,” according to sources.

Earlier, the police had denied reports that three of the conman’s accomplices had managed to escape.

“We let them off for a few days and have called them for examination again. As part of the investigation, we are examining everyone including police officials and others who have any information about conman’s activities” an officer wishing anonymity said.

Sources say besides Amit Hitesh Pandiya and Jay Sitapara, one Trilok Singh from Rajasthan was also staying with Patel at a five-star hotel in Srinagar and impersonating a member of the so-called official team from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Kiran Bhai Patel came under suspicion after he arrived in Srinagar on a second visit within two weeks. The CID department of the J&K police alerted their Gujarat counterparts about the conman. Then Srinagar police were asked to arrest him at a five-star hotel in Srinagar.

Jammu and Kashmir’s police have formed a three-member team headed by SP East Srinagar to investigate the case against an alleged impersonator from Gujarat, Kiran Patel.

The imposter, Kiran Bhai Patel, had held a series of meetings with officials and even visited forward areas near the Line of Control. He shared several videos and pictures of his ‘official visits’ in Kashmir, surrounded by paramilitary guards, on the microblogging site Twitter.

The conman’s first visit to the valley was on October 27 last year. He came with his family. In subsequent visits, the other members of the so-called “PMO team” joined him.

Kiran Patel had also met at least three Deputy Commissioners during his second visit to the valley. A deputy commissioner-rank officer is also believed to have met the conman at the Hotel Lalit, where he was staying in an official capacity.

A senior officer said that it was a major concern that an IAS officer had introduced a conman as a PMO official, and the security wing of the police and other officials obliged with official protocol and Z-plus security cover for such a long time.

A team of Gujarat police has also joined the investigations and questioned Patel, according to sources.

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