Z Plus security cover, a bulletproof Mahindra Scorpio SUV, official accommodation at a five-star hotel and a whole lot more – a conman from Gujarat managed to take the Jammu and Kashmir administration and its security structure for a ride, posing as a senior official from the Prime Minister’s Office. He is verified on Twitter and has over a thousand followers, including BJP Gujarat general secretary Pradipsinh Vaghela.
The imposter, Kiran Bhai Patel, also held a series of meetings with officials during his two visits to Srinagar earlier this year. His social handle also has several videos and pictures of his “official visits” in Kashmir surrounded by paramilitary guards, the last of which was on March 2.
Patel, who was impersonating as additional director for strategy and campaigns in the Prime Minister’s Office, was arrested at least 10 days ago, but his arrest was kept a secret by the police. On Thursday, details of his arrest emerged after a magistrate sent him to judicial custody. It is unclear if an FIR was registered on the same day of his arrest.
The conman’s first visit to the valley was in February when he visited health resorts. There are many videos of him travelling to various places escorted by the paramilitary and the police. He is seen walking through snow at Doodhpathri in Budgam with paramilitary guards. Sources say Patel also held meetings with officials to discuss ways to bring more tourists from Gujarat and about making Doodhpathri a major tourist destination.
He came under scrutiny after he arrived in Srinagar on his second visit within two weeks. Sources said an IAS officer, who is also a district magistrate, informed the police about the visit of a “senior PMO officer.”
Insiders shared action has been initiated against two police officials for the failure to detect the imposter in time. A team from Gujarat Police is also expected to join in the investigations.
Patel’s Twitter bio claims a Ph.D from Commonwealth University, Virginia, an MBA from IIM Trichy, as well as an M.Tech in Computer Science and B.E. in Computer Engineering. He describes himself as a “thinker, strategist, analyst and campaign manager.”