Over two months after the murder of former Gujarat MLA Jayanti Bhanushali, former BJP leader Chhabil Patel, a prime accused in the case, was arrested as soon as he landed at the Ahmedabad international airport on Thursday morning, officials said.
The arrest was made the Gujarat CID-Crime.
Patel had fled to Muscat in Oman a week before Bhanushali was murdered. While Bhanushali was shot dead in a moving train on January 8 (this year), Patel had fled to Muscat on January 2. Thereafter, Patel went to the US on January 10 and lived with his daughter in New Jersey, Bhatia said.
"Patel was arrested from the Ahmedabad airport as soon as his flight from New York landed here early today morning. He confessed to us that he played a key role in the Bhanushali murder case. He revealed how he contacted sharp shooters and conducted a recce of Bhanushali," Bhatia said.
He said, more details will emerge once they secure his remand after he is produced before the court.
The CID had earlier arrested five persons- Patel's son Siddharth, two sharp shooters and two caretakers of Patel's farmhouse in Kutch district, Bhatia said.
According to him, around three accused in the case, including a woman named Manisha Goswami, are still at large and yet to be arrested.
Both Bhanushali and Patel had represented Abdasa seat in Kutch district as legislators.
"Rivalry between Patel and Bhanushali led to the latter's murder. Patel was particularly upset after a rape complaint was registered against him in Delhi a few months back. He secured anticipatory bail in that case. Patel feared that he may have to go to jail in some other case," Bhatia said.
According to the official, Patel possibly decided to come back and face arrest due to the pressure following the arrest of his son.
Bhanushali, a former BJP MLA and former vice-president of Gujarat unit of the BJP, was shot dead in a moving train near Samakhiyali station of Kutch district on January 8. He had represented Abdasa Assembly constituency in Kutch from 2007 to 2012. Patel, a Congress candidate then, had defeated him in the 2012 Assembly election.
Within two years, Patel switched sides and joined the BJP, but lost the bypoll for that seat in 2014.
In 2017, the party chose Patel over Bhanushali for the Abdasa seat, but lost to a Congress candidate.
As per the case registered with the Railway police of the CID, Patel allegedly held Bhanushali responsible for his defeat in 2014 and 2017 and had a grudge against him.
The slain leader's nephew Sunil Bhanushali, who is the complainant in the case, alleged that to end his uncle's political career, Chhabil Patel and others made a CD, which showed him (Jayanti Bhanushali) in a compromising position with a woman.
When Bhanushali refused to retire from political life as allegedly demanded by Patel, the latter hatched the murder conspiracy, the complaint said.
Jayanti Bhanushali had stepped down as Gujarat BJP vice president in July last year after a woman accused him of rape. The Gujarat High Court had quashed the case after the woman withdrew her complaint.
Patel was also suspended by the BJP after his name surfaced in the murder case.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)