Gujarat: A local court on Sunday remanded a 57-year-old man, Mahendra Patel, to six days of police custody after he was arrested for allegedly extorting money from schools for nearly 12 years. Patel’s modus operandi involved using the Right to Information (RTI) Act to gather information about schools and then threatening them with closure based on perceived irregularities.
The arrest came after a complaint filed by Pravin Gajera, a trustee of Jai Ambe Vidya Bhavan, who runs 18 schools across the state. According to Gajera’s complaint, Patel approached him in 2015 claiming to wield influence with the Gujarat Secondary Education Board and demanded money to avoid getting his schools shut down. Over the next two years, Gajera claims to have paid Patel Rs 66 lakh in bribes before realizing he was not alone and that Patel had been targeting other schools for years.
Police raids on Patel’s residence yielded Rs 1.47 crore in cash and files related to multiple schools, suggesting a wider pattern of extortion. Investigations revealed that Patel used RTI requests to obtain information about schools’ permissions and approvals, then misrepresented the information to school authorities, threatening them with closure unless they paid him. He reportedly used a car with “Gujarat government” markings to further his charade and intimidate school officials.
Patel has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including impersonating a public servant, extortion, and criminal intimidation. His arrest highlights the misuse of RTI for personal gain and the importance of vigilance against such tactics. The investigation is ongoing, and further details are expected to emerge.
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