Gujarat BJP leader booked over factory owner's suicide



Gujarat BJP leader Devraj Sakhiya and eight others have been booked on charges of criminal intimidation, extortion and abetment to suicide of a factory owner, police said on Thursday. The BJP leader claimed innocence.

The case was registered on Wednesday following a police complaint filed by Jigna, the widow of Ramesh Gamdha, 43, who consumed poison in Chhapra village in Lodhikha tehsil.

She alleged that her husband was driven to suicide by continuous harassment at the hands of Rajkot district Bharatiya Janata Party President Sakhiya -- from Chief Minister Vijay Rupani's home district Rajkot -- and others though he had repaid a loan of Rs 51.15 crore he took from them.

She filed her police complaint in the presence of Rajkot (Rural) Superintendent of Police Antrip Sood.

Ramesh, who owned a cotton ginning factory and an oil mill in Lodhikha, allegedly consumed a poisonous substance and was admitted to hospital, where he died on Monday. His wife refused to accept his body till a case was registered.

The accused had allegedly forced the factory owner to sign sale agreements for land he and his family owned, including houses and shops. They also allegedly forced him to sign blank cheques, promissory notes and blank stamp papers. 

The accused also allegedly took away one kg gold from Gamdha's family and threatened to kill his two nephews if he did not shell out more money, the complaint reads.

Though the family is demanding the arrest of all accused, police said they will first investigate. "Before making any arrest, we shall have to do some investigation," Lodhika Sub-Inspector Mahendrasinh Rana told reporters.

Based on her complaint, Lodhika police booked Sakhiya and others under Sections 306 (abetment to suicide), 387 (putting person in fear of death in order to extort money), 384 (punishment for extortion), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace), 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) and 114 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code.

Sakhiya denied he had anything to do with Ramesh or that he was associated with a finance firm. He alleged it was a ploy by his political opponents to defame him. - IANS