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Parivar mum on Patel attack

Ahmedabad, Dec. 4: Naroda observed an impromptu bandh a day after VHP leader Jaideep Patel was shot at by two motorcyclists, but the Sangh parivar has been surprisingly quiet about the attack.

Neither the VHP nor the Bajrang Dal has made much of a noise about the attempt to kill Patel, a top rung leader of the parivar in Gujarat. Asked for the reason, VHP spokesman Kaushik Mehta said: “Because we do not want to protest. It is as simple as that.”

However, a social worker who claims to have friends in the VHP alleged that the attack on Patel was a fallout of a fight over distribution of “protection money” that the VHP and Bajrang Dal collected during the communal riots”.

Police are clueless about the identity of the assailants, who shot at Patel from point-blank range when his car was passing a bus stand in Naroda last evening. The VHP leader was operated on again today and a bullet removed from his skull base. He is out of danger, but will be kept under observation in hospital for a week. This rules him out of election campaigning.

Personal rivalry could be a reason for the attack. Patel, who was denied the Naroda ticket at the last minute, does not get along with re-nominated BJP candidate Mayaben Kodnani.

Alternatively, it could also be a revenge strike because Patel has been accused of leading a mob that killed 86 people in Naroda-Patia during the riots.

Even after the police chief last night announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for clues about the attackers, no information has been forthcoming. Forensic experts examined Patel’s car today. Sources said the assailants appeared to be professionals.

A large number of VHP supporters, Patel’s acquaintances and relatives thronged the hospital today. The two-hour operation ended at 4.45 pm. VHP international general secretary Praveen Togadia, an oncologist, was in the operation theatre while it was on. He left for Vadodara to address election meetings after Patel was declared to be “out of danger”.

The injured doctor’s business partner (Patel runs a pathology lab), Vishal Patel, underlined that though the VHP had not called a bandh, people had observed one on their own.

Despite the bandh, the area remained peaceful. Security had been stepped up, with the BSF carrying on intensive patrolling. At all exit and entry points, vehicles were being checked. Some residents had wanted to leave Naroda-Patia, fearing a reprisal, but the security personnel deployed here in large numbers stopped them.

The police claim they had warned Patel about the possibility of an attack on him, but he took it lightly. Assistant commissioner Madansinh Rana said the police had offered him security, which he refused.

However, the VHP spokesman said: “I do not think police ever told him about the threat he faced because of his activities. Even if the police advised him to be careful, “we cannot confirm it as Patel is unconscious in his hospital bed”.

Apart from caretaker chief minister Narendra Modi, Togadia is the only leader in the state who has been given Z-plus security.

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