Skeletons Roll as Investigations into Conman’s Concoctions Reach Gujarat

by Raashid Andrabi

SRINAGAR: Kiran Patel, the Conman from Gujarat who was arrested in Srinagar for impersonating a top-ranking bureaucrat, has been making headlines since his arrest on March 3. As investigations continue, more details have emerged about his activities and associates.

Who Is This 420?

Kiran Patel, a man hailing from Ghodasar area of Gujarat, was recently nabbed by security officials for posing as a top-ranking bureaucrat while on his third trip to the picturesque Kashmir. The daring imposter had been impersonating an additional director in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and enjoying security cover, including a personal security officer and an escort vehicle.

The charade came to a screeching halt when a complaint was lodged by the PMO, stating that no such position existed in their office. The police promptly swung into action and arrested Kiran Patel from a luxurious five-star hotel in Srinagar, where he had been living in style while enjoying his ill-gotten gains.

Patel made two visits to Srinagar in February to explore health resorts and discuss tourism growth, holding multiple meetings. He went even further, visiting Lal Chowk in Srinagar and Uri’s Kaman Post near the Line of Control, before being detained. In Budgam, he even abused a senior civil administration officer for not getting his superior to welcome him in the district.

‘Just An Engineer’

Kiran Patel’s wife, Malini Patel, has since come out in defence of her husband, claiming that he is an engineer who went to Jammu and Kashmir for development work and that he cannot do anything wrong.

Patel’s family claims that the allegations against him are baseless and subject to trial, and that it’s a reflection of some political rivalry. His advocate, Rehan Gohar raised concerns about how Patel managed to visit vulnerable places with high-level protocols that are usually only accessible to government officials. The police recorded Patel’s statement before a magistrate and released another person who was accompanying him in Nishad.

The police, however, have a different story. They allege that Kiran had been faking a position and using it to gain access to government officials and businesspersons, promising those favours in exchange for money. They have seized several documents and electronic devices from Kiran’s possession, which they believe will help them uncover the extent of his illegal activities.

This incident has raised concerns over the security arrangements in the region and the ease with which people can impersonate government officials and gain access to sensitive information.

Not an ‘Intelligence Failure’

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have come under fire after it emerged that the conman was provided with security cover and a bulletproof vehicle during his stay in Kashmir. However, the ADGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar has claimed that this was not an intelligence failure but a “mistake” that is being investigated.

The ADGP has made it clear that any officer who ordered the provision of security cover to the Conman will be dealt with.

Reports suggest that the security cover was provided to Patel after a Deputy Commissioner made the request and sought the security cover. The officer has been questioned.

Veteran PRO Official Resigns

Hitesh Pandya, an additional public relations officer in the Gujarat Chief Minister’s Office, has resigned after serving for nearly 22 years. The resignation was due to the links between his son, Amit, a businessman associated with the BJP, and “conman” Kiran Pate. Pandya had served five chief ministers, including Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel, and Bhupendra Patel.

Pandya confirmed that his son had visited J&K with Kiran Patel “for business purposes” with his approval, but he denied any knowledge of Patel’s links to the CMO. He stated that Patel was affiliated with a private organization called Nation First Foundation (NFF), which Pandya had established in 2011, to promote Modi’s ideologies. Pandya had relieved Patel and all individuals associated with him from NFF in 2011, citing improper billing and business practices, reported The Indian Express.

When asked specifically about Amit’s connection with Kiran Patel by The Indian Express, Pandya stated that they were both employed at a publicity company in 2004. Pandya came to the realization in 2011 that Patel was not someone they should associate themselves with, and therefore he relieved him and all the individuals associated with him from NFF.

After Amit’s “rare heart condition” in September 2022, their contact increased, and Pandya admitted that he didn’t warn his son about Kiran Patel. However, Pandya mentioned that he informed the Chief Minister and other relevant authorities about the case as soon as he found out about it from Amit.

Amit and Jay Sitapara had accompanied Patel to Srinagar and were in the room when police arrested the conman. They were permitted to go home. Later, when the pressure built up from Delhi, they were summoned to Srinagar and are being investigated by the police. It was against this backdrop that Pandya Sr submitted his papers.

Four More Warrants

As the Srinagar racket started troubling Gujarat, the police have booked Kiran Patel along with his wife for cheating and criminal conspiracy. The Ahmadabad city crime branch has lodged a case against Patel for trying to usurp a senior citizen’s bungalow in the city using the same tactic.

The latest FIR alleges that Patel tried to grab a bungalow in a posh locality in Ahmedabad by winning the trust of its owner through false claims of being a “Class 1 officer in the PMO” and having close relations with politicians. Patel and his wife, Malini Patel, have been shown as co-accused in the FIR. The couple had put their own nameplate outside the bungalow and even did a house-warming ritual as if they were the owners.

Four FIRs related to cheating have been registered against Patel in different police stations of Gujarat in the past. Since he is in judicial custody in Jammu and Kashmir, authorities will try to bring him back to Gujarat through a transfer warrant.


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