Among the convicted, 4 of a family

Sandeep Dilip Patel, an engineering student, stood quietly outside the Anand district court complex along with his maternal uncle, also called Dilip Patel, till the names of convicts were declared Monday.

Once the announcement of the verdict began, he rushed inside the court complex along with his mother, constantly taking calls from his sister, who is settled in Australia, to give her updates on their father.

But all hopes were dashed for Sandeep once he learnt that his father Dilip Vallabh Patel was among the 19 convicted for murder, conspiracy and other crimes. His uncle Harish too was found guilty on similar charges. Both brothers are in tobacco business.

This is one family of Leuva Patels that had five of its members in the list of accused in the case. The others are Dilip Vallabh Patel's brother-in-law Atul Patel, who was also convicted for murder and conspiracy along with his (Atul's) uncle Pravin Mangal Patel. The only relief for the family was the acquittal of Kalpesh Patel, son of Harish Patel.

Sandeep refused to talk to anyone and kept shaking his head in disappointment, between calls to his sister.

His uncle Dilip Patel said, "We do not have any evidence to prove our innocence. That's why we are helpless. Otherwise, I know that my brother-in-law Dilip Patel was in Pune to deliver a consignment of capsicum at that time," he says.

Anand district is known for its tobacco, and now vegetable farming.

Dilip also blames politics for the fate of his relatives. "In spite of being innocent, our family members are languishing in jail. We are not going to entertain any politician in our village now," he adds.

Among those convicted for attempted murder is 35-year-old Devang Harshad Patel, a wedding photographer. His wife Parul, two sons and his aged parents live in Ode.

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