Gujarat BJP Friday suspended its leader and former MLA Chhabil Patel from the party after the state police's probe revealed that he was behind the murder of another party leader and ex-MLA Jayanti Bhanushali.
Since Patel belonged to Kutch district, state BJP president Jitu Vaghani asked the district unit president to suspend him from the party membership, a release issued by the Gujarat BJP said.
Patel's suspension came a day after the Gujarat CID-Crime arrested Patel's two aides in connection with Bhanushali's killing.
The probe agency has said that Patel had fled to Muscat a week before the murder.
Bhanushali, who once represented Abdasa seat of Kutch district in the assembly, was shot dead in a moving train on January 8.
The incident took place when the train was between Bhachau and Samkhiyali stations in Kutch, the police had said.
Investigations into the case revealed that Patel along with a woman, Manisha Goswami, had hired two sharp shooters from Maharashtra to kill Bhanushali.
The sharp shooters allegedly stayed at Patel's farmhouse in Kutch before committing the crime at his behest, they said.
According to the CID-Crime, both Patel and Goswami harboured a grudge against Bhanushali and decided to join hands to eliminate their common rival.
As planned by Patel and Goswami, Bhanushali (53) was attacked when he was travelling in an air-conditioned coupe on the Bhuj-Dadar Express while returning to Ahmedabad from Bhuj, CID officials had said yesterday.
While Patel has fled the country on January 2, the police were yet to establish the whereabouts of Goswami and two sharp shooters.
Bhanushali represented the Abdasa assembly seat between 2007 and 2012. Patel, as a Congress candidate, had defeated him from Abdasa in the 2012 assembly elections.
Within two years, Patel switched sides and joined the BJP, but lost the bypoll for the seat in 2014.
In the 2017 polls, the BJP chose Patel over Bhanushali for the Abdasa seat, but he lost to the Congress candidate.
In his complaint to the Gandhidham railway police, Bhanushali's nephew Sunil Bhanushali had alleged that Patel held his uncle responsible for his defeat in 2014 and 2017 and held a grudge against him.
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