Z-plus security, 5-star accommodations: Guy acts as PMO official in J&K, held

VIDEOS AND PHOTOS from Gulmarg’s icy slopes and Uri’s Aman Setu; high-profile meetings with Jammu and Kashmir bureaucrats; 5-star hotel accommodations and Z-plus security — During his two travels to the Union Territory, Kiran J Patel pulled off this and much more while posing as an Additional Director (Planning and Strategy) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The J&K Police confirmed Patel’s arrest two weeks ago in Srinagar on Friday. On March 2, he was apprehended at the 5-star Hotel Lalit Grand Palace in Srinagar, following a tip-off from an informant in New Delhi. On Friday, his police remand expired.

Only when the PMO inquired about the steps taken against the Ahmedabad resident was a first information report (FIR) filed.

According to police, Patel has three complaints against him in Gujarat for criminal breach of trust, cheating, and criminal conspiracy.

According to Ahmedabad sources, Patel studied computer engineering in London.

As he was picked up from his Srinagar hotel, Patel was accompanied by three people he had presented earlier as PMO employees. According to police officials, the three are Amit Pandiya and Jay Sitapore from Gujarat and Trilok Singh from Rajasthan, and they have all fled the Valley. Several “relevant persons have been examined in the matter,” according to the sources.

Patel was allegedly offered 5-star accommodation and detailed security cover during his two prior excursions to the Valley, according to police, on the recommendation of a Deputy Commissioner deployed in south Kashmir. The Deputy Commissioner allegedly summoned the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Security Wing and recommended security for Patel after identifying him as a PMO official. They said that as part of Patel’s security detail, he was given a bulletproof SUV and two Seema Sashastra Bal (SSB) escort cars – in violation of regulations and protocols because such requests generally come in writing from the PMO.

Patel had previously visited the state and had shared numerous photos and videos on his Twitter account. On February 17, he shared a photo shot near Uri’s Aman Setu, the last point on the Line of Control. He posted photos of the Gulmarg Ski Resort on February 18 and 20. On February 22, he shared photos of people waiting in line at Srinagar’s Shankaracharya temple. On February 23, he tweeted a video of his security detail. Another video shows him visiting the Aharbal waterfall in Kulgam, south Kashmir.

Patel also met with J&K authorities, selling them on the idea of increasing apple output and holding seminars on how to promote the horticultural industry. Officials said Patel claimed during his visit to Gulmarg that the government had entrusted him with enhancing hotel facilities in the area. Patel allegedly scolded some staff and threatened to transfer them to the Doodhpathri wellness resort. He also claimed credit for the recent reorganisation of the bureaucracy.

Police sources said while some officers felt suspicious of Patel owing to his activities, they could not find the confidence to complain against a “Assistant Director from PMO”. His cover was blown when an informer from Delhi notified the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) of the J&K Police about Patel’s real identity.

“On the 2nd of March 2023, CID wing of J&K Police gave information to Police regarding the arrival of an impostor in Kashmir,” according to a police statement. SSP Srinagar immediately dispatched a team to the Lalit Hotel, commanded by SP East. Kiran Bhai Patel, son of Juddesh Bhai Patel, of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, was discovered to be misrepresenting himself as Assistant Director (Strategy and campaigns), PMO, New Delhi. Because his responses were deemed suspect, he was transported to the Nishat Police Station, where he confessed to his crime. He was arrested with ten bogus visiting cards and two mobile phones.”

According to a source in J&K Police, a CID personnel became suspicious of Patel after learning the police personnel was from J&K CID while he was waxing poetic about the nitty gritty of security operations at a militant incident site. Unlike many other police departments, the J&K CID handles intelligence, and Patel was unaware of the differential. The staff gave the PMO a bogus location and asked Patel if he (the J&K CID officer) could meet him there, to which Patel replied in the affirmative. The CID personnel then informed his superiors.

Patel was charged with cheating through personation, 420 (cheating and dishonesty), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), and 471 (using as genuine a forged document) under the Indian Criminal Code (IPC).

Addressing to the media, Patel’s lawyer Rayan Ahmad stated his client and his family have characterised the claims against him as “baseless and unfounded” and labelled his detention a “reflection of some political rivalry in Gujarat”.

“The police allege that Patel impersonated a top official,” the lawyer stated. By that they mean he trespassed and went to certain vulnerable places where the normal man cannot go. Yet he followed process. How did my client accomplish this? Proper documentation is required for protocol. According to my chat with him and his family, they had visited Kashmir once and had legitimate government documents proving that Patel was a government officer.”

Contrary to police accusations that Patel was joined by three others, the attorney stated that his client was accompanied by only two more people. “I learned from my client that he was joined by two additional people. “The police recorded one of them’s statements before the court under Section 164, and another individual was set free by the police station in question,” the lawyer claimed.

Patel describes himself on Twitter as “Dr Kiran J Patel,” having a doctorate from “Virginia Commonwealth University and an MBA from IIM-T [Indian Institute of Management Trichy]”. He describes himself as a thinker, strategist, analyst, and campaign manager as well. Patel announced his appointment as the Academic Director of Commonwealth Vocational University of TONGO, Australia, in a tweet dated February 11.

Patel deceived not only police and public servants, but also several Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in the Valley.

According to Manzoor Bhat, the BJP’s media in-charge for Kashmir, who was photographed with Patel, the accused introduced himself as a PMO employee.

“In October, I received a call from an unknown number,” Bhat explained. The caller claimed to be from the PMO and stated that PM Saheb was eager to organise elections in J&K. After 20 days, I received another call from him. He stated that he was in Srinagar and wanted to meet with me. I visited the Lalit Palace Hotel. Many people had gathered to greet him. I was amazed with his security cover. He showed me his identification and introduced me to his family. I instructed him to write to BJP J&K president Ravinder Raina because he mentioned elections.”

Bhat alleged that when Patel urged him not to reveal his identify to anyone, he became suspicious. “Patel stated that he was working covertly and that his life would be jeopardised if his identity was revealed. “I just met him once,” he explained.

The BJP leader stated that he does not recall who took his photo with Patel. “I am a well-known figure. People approach me and take photos with me. “It means nothing,” he said.

On Friday, a woman in Ahmedabad identified herself as “Patel’s wife Malini” to The Indian Express and refused to comment on the matter.

The family rents a house in Ahmedabad’s Maninagar’s Ghodasar sector, in a society of 127 bungalows. Because the owners live outside of Gujarat, the houses on either side of their bungalow are closed.

According to a neighbour, the family moved to the community about 3-4 years ago. “I didn’t directly know Patel. I simply recognised him by his face. He has a home here, although he rarely visits. “I just learned his entire name after seeing his images in the media,” he explained.

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