As rebel Sena MLAs transited Surat, CR Paatil ran show from behind the scenes

The Indian Express | 1 month ago | 24-06-2022 | 02:50 pm

As rebel Sena MLAs transited Surat, CR Paatil ran show from behind the scenes

Hours ahead of June 21 morning, when the International Yoga Day was celebrated, a luxury hotel on the Surat-Dumas Road came under a tight police cordon. At least 30 Shiv Sena MLAs from Maharashtra, led by Eknath Shinde, a minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, had driven down to Surat on June 20 night to seek sanctuary in this hotel – and to declare a rebellion against the Uddhav-led Sena.Gujarat BJP chief Chandrakant Raghunath Paatil, popularly known as CR, was due to attend a Yoga Day event at Raisan village in Gandhinagar, which however was cancelled at the last minute.While Surat seemed to be a natural choice for the rebel Sena MLAs, given that it is just 279-km from Mumbai in the BJP-ruled Gujarat, the presence of a man at the Le Meridien hotel, where 40 rooms had been booked on June 20 night, confirmed that the operation bore the stamp of C R Paatil, a Lok Sabha MP from Navsari with roots in Maharashtra’s Jalgaon district, who is also said to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.That man was Paresh Patel, Paatil’s confidant and the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC)’s Standing Committee chairman, who was at the hotel right from June 20 night when the rebel Sena MLAs arrived. So, although Paatil was out of sight, at his behest Paresh remained at the helm of the Surat scene from where Shinde’s rebellion plan was set into motion.Paatil told The Indian Express that he had been out of Surat “since Monday”. The presence of the Gujarat police personnel in significant numbers outside the hotel and that of a police team, including Surat city joint commissioner Sharad Singhal, inside it indicated that Paatil’s another confidant, the Gujarat minister of state for home Harsh Sanghavi, a Surat MLA, could not have been unaware of this operation and the identity of the guests there.Sources said that nearly 32 rebel MLAs reached Surat on June 20 night after being driven from Maharashtra, and six others joined them on early June 21 morning. At around 4 am on June 22, a chartered Spice Jet flight carrying 38 Sena and Independent MLAs along with Shinde, flew out of Surat to Guwahati in flood-ravaged Assam, another BJP-ruled state.From June 20 night to early June 22, two developments seemed to have led to this evacuation from Surat: one was the access gained by Uddhav’s two emissaries – his personal secretary Milind Narvekar and the Legislative Council member Ravindra Phatak – to the hotel to meet the rebel Sena MLAs and, secondly, the bid made by two party MLAs, Nitin Deshmukh and Kailas Patil, to “escape” from there against Shinde’s plan, insider sources told The Indian Express. “Being close to Maharashtra did not look like a good idea any more,” said a source.Surat city was selected as a safe haven by the Sena rebels because it is in a BJP-ruled state and barely 279-km away from Mumbai, even as it has a good road, air and rail connectivity. Maharashtra’s Palghar district shares its border with Gujarat’s Valsad district. All the rebel MLAs were brought to Surat by road via Palghar, a distance of 212 kms, said a source. While Navsari and Valsad districts are closer to Maharashtra, “neither has an airport or luxury hotels”, the source added. A significant part of Navsari, Paatil’s parliamentary constituency, lies in Surat district.According to a source who handled the logistics for the Shinde camp in Surat, 38 rebel MLAs were flown from the city on a chartered Spice Jet flight to Guwahati on June 21. Four MLAs flew out on a chartered flight on June 22, while four more followed suit on June 23 at around 6 am. Sources in the local BJP unit said that the two aircraft chartered from Mumbai and Delhi were stationed at the Surat airport “in readiness” with the city becoming the rebel MLAs’ key transit base. Thus, said the source, “46 Shiv Sena and Independent MLAs reached Guwahati”.While Paresh Patel was seen at the Le Meridien hotel in his official car, sources said he was assisted by his colleagues in the SMC, such as BJP councillor Dinesh Rajpurohit, councillor Amit Singh Rajput, and Surat party general secretary Kishor Bindal. All these BJP leaders, affiliated to the Paatil camp, were given various assignments, including the crucial tasks of booking flights and accomodation for the Sena rebels.The 170-room Le Meridien hotel on Surat-Dumas Road was chosen, sources said, because it was located just a km off the Surat airport. “In the case of an emergency all the MLAs could have been rushed in a short time to the Surat airport, which has good domestic air connectivity as well as parking space for chartered planes,” said a source.Surat, which is home to some of the country’s leading diamond barons, is not only flush with funds but has also those businessmen “willing to back such an operation”, of whom several own chartered planes too, sources said.Sources in the Surat BJP unit said that prior to the arrival of Shinde’s flock of MLAs to the city, local party leaders had contacted Le Meridien and made arrangements for their accommodation there.Before the MLAs checked into the hotel, the Gujarat police personnel were already deployed in its premises. The MLAs were kept in rooms on the hotel’s fourth floor, with the BJP leaders being present there to take care of their requirements. The cops in plainclothes were also stationed on different floors to ensure no one breached the cordon, and to keep the flock “insulated” from curious visitors. Three layers of security were ensured outside the hotel with only guests with prior bookings allowed entry on showing their identity proofs. The hotel staff were stationed along with policemen, who had the list of such guests.“An operation with such precision and secrecy could not have happened without the knowledge of the BJP top brass,” said a Congress leader.

Google Follow Image


Similar News

Heavy Rains in Parts of North, South Gujarat, Catchment Areas of Narmada Dam
News18 | 6 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:56 pm
News18
6 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:56 pm

Heavy rains lashed parts of north and south Gujarat on Tuesday with the Tapi, Banaskantha and Valsad districts receiving over 100 mm of rainfall in 12 hours since morning, officials said. A downpour in Ahmedabad city in the evening caused waterlogging, slowing down the traffic.Heavy rainfall in the catchment areas of Sardar Sarovar dam in Narmada district caused its level to rise to 134.65 metres around 8 pm, below the full reservoir level of 138.68 metres, officials said.It also received heavy inflow of water from Omkareshwar and Indira Dams in Madhya Pradesh. As of 8 pm, it had received 2.30 lakh cusec water, with 23 gates opened to 2.90 metres to release 4.50 lakh cusec water in riverbed powerhouse and turbines, officials said. More than 30 tehsils received over 50 mm of rainfall during the day, mainly in the districts of Tapi, Banaskantha, Valsad, Chhota Udepur, Navsari, Mehsana, Dang, Aravalli, Surat, Mahisagar and Patan, said a release issued by the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC).The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast widespread light to moderate rainfall in most parts of Gujarat in the next 24 hours with 'heavy to heavy rainfall' in isolated areas and `extremely heavy' rainfall in some districts of south and north Gujarat regions, Saurashtra and Kutch till Thursday morning.Shamlaji in Aravalli district reported a landslide which affected the traffic on a national highway connecting Gujarat to Rajasthan.Rainfall also caused swelling of rivers in several districts.Read the Latest News and Breaking News here

Heavy Rains in Parts of North, South Gujarat, Catchment Areas of Narmada Dam
Bilkis Bano Case: Opposition Slams BJP, PM Modi Over Convicts' Release
Ndtv | 6 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:39 pm
Ndtv
6 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 11:39 pm

"We were surprised to know that the convicts have been released," Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub Rasul said.Ahmedabad/New Delhi: The ruling BJP on Tuesday faced the Opposition fire over the release of 11 people convicted for rape and murder in the Bilkis Bano case of the 2002 post-Godhra riots, while its government in Gujarat defended the move citing a 1992 remission policy and denied any violation of rules in the matter.While the convicts, sentenced to life imprisonment, walked out of the Godhra sub-jail on August 15 after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy, and spoke about starting a new life, Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub Rasul expressed surprise over the relief granted to them.Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was gang raped while fleeing the violence that broke out post the Sabarmati train burning incident in Godhra. Seven members of her family were killed during the 2002 post-Godhra riots.After their release on completion of more than 15 years in jail, the convicts, who were also charged with killing the pregnant woman's three-year-old daughter, were welcomed with sweets and garlands outside the prison."We were surprised to know that the convicts have been released," Bilkis Bano's husband Yakub Rasul told PTI."We don't know when the convicts processed their application and which ruling the state government took into consideration. We never received any kind of notice," Mr Rasul said.Mr Rasul said the Gujarat government had paid the family a compensation of Rs 50 lakh as directed by the Supreme Court, but is yet to provide a job or a house as directed by the top court.Mr Rasul said he lives virtually in hiding with his wife and five sons, the eldest one 20 years old.A special CBI court in Mumbai in 2008 sentenced the 11 accused to life imprisonment on the charge of gang rape and murder of seven members of Bilkis Bano's family. Their conviction was later upheld by the Bombay High Court.Radheshyam Shah, the convict whose plea for premature release paved the way for all the 11 life sentence convicts to walk out of jail, said he feels happy to be released."The Gujarat government has released us as per the order of the Supreme Court. I feel glad to be out as I will be able to meet my family members and begin a new life," he said.In New Delhi, Opposition parties hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the release of the convicts within hours of his praise for "Nari Shakti" in the Independence Day speech and alleged this is the "real face" of 'New India" under the BJP.They said the remission for the convicts, serving life imprisonment for the gang rape of a pregnant Bilkis Bano and murder of seven of her family members, was a violation of the Centre's guidelines and demanded the withdrawal of the order.Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said Prime Minister Modi should tell the country if he himself believed in his words when he spoke about the safety, respect and empowerment of women."The BJP government in Gujarat released 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano gang rape case. This decision brings out the BJP government's mindset," he told reporters in the national capital."Yesterday, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister spoke big things about women's safety, women's power, women's respect. A few hours later the Gujarat government released those behind the rape. We also saw that the convicts in the rape who were released are being honoured. Is this the Amrit Mahotsav," Mr Khera said.In a tweet, the CPI(M) condemned the release of the convicts, saying "This is the real face of New India -- convicted killers and rapists released" and activist Teesta Setalvad "who fought for justice was jailed".Trinamool Congress spokesperson Saket Gokhale said Bilkis Bano was "raped in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom and her entire family was murdered and buried in a mass grave"."Gujarat govt has now released all 11 monsters who were convicted of this heinous crime. Where's the outrage by people & the Noida media? Not even a whimper," he tweeted.All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi also targeted Prime Minister Modi over their release.In his Independence Day speech, Modi had asked Indians to take a pledge not to do anything that lowers the dignity of women, Owaisi said."He said something about supporting 'Nari Shakti'. Gujarat BJP govt released criminals convicted of gang rape on the same day. The message is clear," Mr Owaisi tweeted.Bahujan Samaj Party MP Danish Ali also referred to the prime minister's remarks and said the release of the 11 convicts has exposed the huge gap between words and the spirit of justice.However, the Gujarat government defended the move, saying the convicts were released as per the remission policy prevalent in the state at the time of their conviction in 2008 and rejected claims of contravention of the Centre's guidelines in the matter."These 11 persons were convicted by a special court in Mumbai in 2008. At the time of conviction, Gujarat was following a remission policy which came into effect in 1992. When the matter reached the Supreme Court, it directed us to decide about the release under the 1992 policy, because that was prevalent when conviction came in 2008," Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Raj Kumar, told PTI in Ahmedabad.Gujarat adopted a new and revised remission policy for prisoners in 2014. In that policy, which is currently in effect, there are detailed guidelines about categories of convicts who can or can not be given relief, said the senior bureaucrat."Since the conviction took place in 2008, the SC directed us to consider this case under the 1992 policy, which was in effect in 2008. That policy did not have any specific clarity as to who can be given remission and who can not. That policy was not that detailed in comparison to the 2014 policy," said the IAS officer.Lawyers also said the SC order directing the Gujarat government to consider the remission of the sentence as per the July 1992 policy paved the way for the premature release of the convicts.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comAs per the current policy, a person convicted for both gang rape and murder can not be released prematurely, but the 1992 policy had no such bar, a lawyer said.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

Bilkis Bano Case: Opposition Slams BJP, PM Modi Over Convicts' Release
Your Daily Wrap: Bihar Cabinet expansion; Karnataka minister’s audio clip row; and more
The Indian Express | 7 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 10:50 pm
The Indian Express
7 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 10:50 pm

As the 11 convicted for life in the gangrape of Bilkis Bano, and the murder of seven members of her family, during the 2002 Gujarat riots, walked out of jail on Tuesday, the Congress lashed out at the BJP government, calling the state government order “unprecedented”. With Tuesday marking the death anniversary of A B Vajpayee, Congress leader Pawan Khera said he wanted to remind Prime Minister Narendra Modi again of the Raj Dharma that the former PM had talked about during his visit to Gujarat after the 2002 riots. In May this year, the Supreme Court had asked the Gujarat government to decide, within two months, an application filed by one of the men found guilty in the Bilkis case. The convict had sought “premature” release from prison, where he had spent more than 15 years following conviction in January 2008. A look at what happened to Bilkis in 2002, what the CBI found in its investigation, and how the trial in the case proceeded.In Bihar, 31 ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav’s brother Tej Pratap Yadav, took oath as Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expanded his Cabinet today. The swearing-in of the 31 ministers reflects the RJD’s attempt at implementing its “MY (Muslim-Yadav)-plus” strategy while the Janata Dal (United) has stuck to its reliable OBC-EBC-Dalit-Upper caste combination.A controversy has erupted in Karnataka following the emergence of an audio recording linked to Law Minister J C Madhuswamy, who allegedly said the government in the state is not functioning and that the BJP is just managing things until the 2023 Assembly polls. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, however, sought to downplay the minister’s remarks by claiming that the said comments were made in a specific context to the cooperative sector and that everything else was all right in the government. Last year, Madhuswamy’s name was in contention to replace Yediyurappa as CM. Yet, the very qualities that made Madhuswamy a top choice in the books of some in the BJP were also held against him by others in the party — he was too independent, abrasive, outspoken and, crucially, lacked roots in the Sangh Parivar.In the world of Tech: Google executives reportedly warned employees of possible layoffs if the end quarter results don’t look good. A screenshot viewed by Insider reveals that Google Cloud sales leadership threatened its employees, saying there will be an “overall examination of sales productivity and productivity in general” and that if next quarter’s results “don’t look up, there will be blood on the streets.” Meanwhile, Apple laid off many of its contract-based recruiters in the past week, part of a push to rein in the tech giant’s hiring and spending. The recruiters were responsible for hiring new employees for Apple, and the cuts underscore that a slowdown is underway at the company.Political PulseIn the political silence in India over the attack on author Salman Rushdie, leaving him critically injured, the most deafening is of the ruling BJP. While the BJP would have been expected to react to the attack on Rushdie, party leaders – who did not want to come on record – said the circumstances had changed. A conscious decision has been taken by the party now to refrain from commenting on any incident involving international ramifications. The situation has been further complicated by the recent fiasco surrounding statements by its spokesperson Nupur Sharma (since suspended), as well as its mixed feelings about the writer himself who has been critical of the Narendra Modi government. Liz Mathew reports. More From Political PulseOnce burnt, twice shy: What the BJP silence on Rushdie attack tells usJakhars of Abohar: In Warring's crosshairs, Congress MLA and Sunil Jakhar's nephew Sandeep dares party to expel himBihar Cabinet decoded: RJD’s ‘MY-plus’ push, JD(U) sticks to tried-and-tested 11Click here for more From the Urdu Press: As India celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence, a tidal wave of patriotism swept through the Urdu press, that sought to map the arc of the country’s remarkable journey, its accomplishments and failings, since 1947. The leading Urdu dailies also expressed concerns over widening faultlines in the country, fearing for the future of democracy and constitutionalism — and the fate of minorities — amid a growing atmosphere of division and hate. The horrifying attack on Salman Rushdie in New York, however, met with silence in their editorial pages, although they ran news reports on the stab assault and follow-up stories.Express ExplainedA day after a made-in-India howitzer gun, the ATAGS, was used for the first time in the ceremonial 21-gun salute during the Independence Day celebrations, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday handed over several new defence systems, including the F-INSAS, the Nipun mines, the Landing Craft Assault (LCA), to the Army. What is the F-INSAS system, and what are Nipun mines? Read here. Best of ExplainedIndependence Day over, here's how to store the National Flag Police to visit Ranveer's home, what obscenity laws did he break?Ola likely to launch an electric car in 2024, what we know about itClick here for more The remains of an Army jawan, Lance Naik Chandrashekhar Harbol, were found on the Siachen Glacier on August 15, more than 38 years after he went missing in an avalanche. The avalanche had claimed the lives of 18 soldiers of the 19th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment while they were out on a mission. What was this mission, for which the 18 soldiers had volunteered knowing fully well the risk they were running? What was the role that 19 Kumaon played in cementing India’s claim over the Siachen Glacier? We explain.

Your Daily Wrap: Bihar Cabinet expansion; Karnataka minister’s audio clip row; and more
On Bilkis Bano Convicts' Release, Asaduddin Owaisi Points To Gujarat Polls
Ndtv | 12 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 06:22 pm
Ndtv
12 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 06:22 pm

Asaduddin Owaisi said it is more unfortunate as the PM spoke of more power to women from Red Fort.New Delhi: The release of 11 men serving life term for the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots, is "appeasement politics" ahead of the state elections in Gujarat, Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of AIMIM, told NDTV today. "It is more unfortunate as the Prime Minister talked about more power to women from Red Fort on the Independence Day. It is sending a wrong message to the Muslim community and sets a wrong precedent," he added during an exclusive interview."This is again a crime committed against Bilkis Bano. Fresh wounds are given to Bilkis Bano. I hope good sense would prevail in the BJP," Mr Owaisi said.Elections are due in Gujarat by the end of this year, in which the BJP is hoping for another term in power in the state.In June the Centre had said that rape convicts cannot be released under a special release policy for convicted prisoners as part of the "Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav" celebrations. But those guidelines may not be applicable in this case.The Gujarat government had released the men following its own policy under the Supreme Court's directions in May to consider a remission plea by one of the convicts."The BJP is completely biased to people practicing a certain religion. Why are people in jail for Godhra? They don't care about rule of law. They are committing a crime again. They have no remorse," he added.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comBilkis Bano, 21, was five months' pregnant when she was raped on March 3, 2002. Her toddler daughter was among the seven family members murdered the same day.  The family was hiding in fields near Ahmedabad as violence erupted in the aftermath of the burning of a Sabarmati Express coach that killed 59 'kar sevaks'.In 2008, a special court in Mumbai sentenced the 11 men to life term – a sentence that was upheld by the Bombay High Court.

On Bilkis Bano Convicts' Release, Asaduddin Owaisi Points To Gujarat Polls
We were victims of politics, says Bilkis case convict day after being freed
The Indian Express | 12 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 05:50 pm
The Indian Express
12 hours ago | 16-08-2022 | 05:50 pm

A day after he and ten others were released from jail in the case related to the gangrape of Bilkis Bano and murder of her family members during the 2002 Gujarat riots, convict Shailesh Bhatt claimed that they were “victims of politics.” Bhatt, 63, who said he was a local functionary of the ruling BJP when he was arrested, and others including his brother and co-convict Mitesh left for their village Singor in Gujarat’s Dahod district after walking out of the Godhra jail.Sentenced to life imprisonment, they were released on Monday under the Gujarat government’s remission policy after completing more than 15 years in jail.Bilkis Bano case: 11 lifers convicted for Gujarat riots gangrape, murder set free in Godhra; Congress calls BJP govt order ‘unprecedented’ pic.twitter.com/b6bY503sC3— The Indian Express (@IndianExpress) August 16, 2022 Their reception at the village on Tuesday was muted and there was no visible celebration.“Singor is a small village. All the convicts belong to this village. We were all victims of politics,” said Shailesh Bhatt, speaking to reporters.He was a farmer and also an office-bearer of the district unit of the BJP while his brother worked as a clerk at Panchmahals Dairy when they were arrested, he said.“We were arrested in 2004 and remained in jail for more than 18 years. It feels good to be home with my family members. Everybody is happy that we are back. My son was eight or nine years old then, now he is an adult and works with Panchmahal Dairy. I am happy for him,” Bhatt added.His mother died when he was in jail in 2007.The court had granted him interim bail to perform her last rites, he said.Bilkis Bano was 21 years old and five months pregnant when she was raped while fleeing the violence that broke out in the aftermath of the Sabarmati Express train burning incident at Godhra in 2002.Seven members of her family were murdered.Radheshyam Shah, another convict, had asserted after his release on Monday that they were all innocent.“We were framed up because of our belief in certain ideology,” he had claimed before the media.One of them died during the trial while a couple of others lost their wives during their incarceration, he said.

We were victims of politics, says Bilkis case convict day after being freed