Close on heels of the recent hooch tragedy in Botad, the Crime Branch- ATS was handed over the case. Nearly 50 people lost their lives due to consumption of spurious liquor in the last week of July.
The liquor was made from the highly poisonous methyl alcohol, sourced from AMOS Enterprises, based out of Narol. A total of three FIRs have been registered against 14 people on charges of murder and other offences. Of the 14 are AMOS company directors Samir Patel, Chandubhai Patel, Pankaj Patel and Rajit Choksi.
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, the directors approached the District Session Court for anticipatory bail after a special investigation team (SIT) probing the Botad hooch tragedy issued summons to them. The SIT was seeking their presence to inquire about how 600 litres of methyl alcohol made its way out of their company. On Friday, their bail stood denied.
Now, in an interesting turn of events, Samir Patel remains untraceable. “He did make an appearance when initially called in by the Crime Branch for preliminary questioning on July 24. However, ever since, he has remained not reachable. With the matter still being probed, an arrest warrant is yet to be issued,” shared a tight-lipped crime branch official.
The three FIRs lodged were at the Barwala, Ranpur and Dhandhuka police stations. “We trailed the source of the methyl alcohol and reached at the doors of AMOS. At that time, Samir Nilenbhai Patel was taken for interrogation. The questioning done, he was let off. There was no demand for judicial custody for further questioning,” shared the source, hinting at the “mere formality” of a grilling for the prime accused.
The questions that loom large remain: Who is shielding Samir Patel? Why did the Crime Branch let him off so easily? Who gained in Samir’s safe exit out of the case?
The answers do point to a big nexus but with the offenders now denied anticipatory bail, it is just a matter of time before the names all tumble out.
When quizzed about letting go of Patel despite having him at the Crime Branch office on July 24, DCP (Crime Branch) Chaitanya Mandlik stated: “The case was yet to be established. Patel gave an account of his company having sold off the 600 liters. We checked all ledgers and the ATS team was also present. We also collected the CCTV footage to officially start investigating. Our team also tracked down Jayesh and Bunty. “
Despite Jayesh and Bunty being handed over to Botad police by the crime branch, Samir Patel was not. He was allowed to leave after questioning. Even though he accepted that the methyl came from his company, crime branch officials could not verify the statement. Further, Samir was not named in the FIR.
“Please direct all questions to the SMC. We don’t handle queries. I cannot comment on anything,” stated ATS SP Sunil Joshi when contacted over the phone.
Surat Municipal Corporation and Jambaz police inspector at loggerheads?
Law enforcing agencies are known to quip one another to remain on the top. However, in the case, Patel emerged the beneficiary of undercurrents between the Jambaz police inspector and the Surat Municipal Corporation.
For its part, the crime branch maintains that Patel was brought in and “handed over” for interrogation to the SMC. After SMC took over, the section of murder was removed. In its place, came the charge of “co-offender man slaughter.”
On the other hand, the Jambaz PI, stands accused of a “soft approach” and non-cooperation in the matter.