'BJP leader killed for engineering defection in Cong'

Gujarat BJP leader killed for 'engineering' power change in municipality: Police

ATS officials said that at the behest of Amit Katara, Gudala and other co-accused hatched a conspiracy to kill councillor Hiren Patel

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Monday said that the BJP councillor, who was allegedly killed in a staged hit-and-run case in Jhalod, Dahod district in central Gujarat, was murdered allegedly at the behest of sitting Congress MLA's brother Amit Katara, who also happens to be the son of ex-Congress MP Babubhai Katara.

Officials said that the murder was "politically motivated as he had engineered defection in the Congress leading to the victory of the BJP-supported councillors in the municipality election.

The alleged revelation came after the ATS arrested one of the main accused Imran Gudala from Mewat, Haryana, where he was traced on Sunday.

Gudala is said to be close to Amit Katara, the brother of sitting local Congress MLA Bhavesh Katara.

ATS officials said that at the behest of Amit Katara, Gudala and other co-accused hatched a conspiracy to kill councillor Hiren Patel. Patel was killed on September 27 when he was out on his morning walk. He was rammed by a car.

"It was a political killing since Patel had orchestrated a change of power in the local municipality," Deputy Inspector General of Police Himanshu Shukla told DH.

Superintendent of Police, ATS, Imtiaz Shaikh, told reporters that, "At the instruction of Amit Katara, Ifran Pada together with another accused Ajal Kalal executed the killing."

Pada is also a convict in Sabarmati Express train carnage case. So far, a total of seven accused have been arrested, including Kalal, a resident of Jhalod, Salim Shaikh alias Kala, Irfan Basti, Sajjan Singh Chauhan, Md Samir Mujawar and Balram Bhuvanji, all residents of Madhya Pradesh.

"Gudala is closely associated with Amit Katara. After BJP councillor Hiren Patel engineered defection in the Congress and kept several independent members of the Jhalod municipality out of Congress' reach, it is suspected that Katara was upset as he couldn't make his candidates win the election held for Jhalod Municipality president and vice-president.

"His wife Kinjal was president from February 2018 to August 2020. In that election, it is believed that due to Patel, three Congress councillors and one independent favoured BJP-supported candidate. Among the three Congress councillors was Sonal Dindor who was elected unanimously. She and two other Congress councillors supported a BJP backed candidate Nanda Vaghela for the post of vice-presidentship. This led to Congress' loss in the municipality," said a police officer, who is part of the probe.

Sources added that Jhalod, dominated by tribal population, is a cash-rich municipality as it gets various grants for tribal development and that could be the reason behind eliminating Patel, who is believed to play a key role in ousting the Congress from the local body.

Officials said that Amit Katara will be arrested soon.