Gangs of Porbandar get active in Gujarat assembly poll battle

Kandhal Sarman Jadeja
Leaders with 'links' to crime groups seek tickets, try to swing voters

About a month back, Kandhal Sarman Jadeja placed an advertisement in Porbandar's papers which had his mobile phone number and said: "Call me if someone calls you for extortion or demands ransom in my name." It did not shock many as it came from the late 'godmother' and mafia queen Santokhben Jadeja's family.

Not many who hope to contest assembly elections would offer such "help". But Jadeja is the eldest of Santokhben's four sons and apparently this is his way of playing Robin Hood before aiming to win Porbandar's Kutiyana seat, represented by his late parents until the mid-1990s. Jadeja is hoping to get a NCP ticket for the polls.

Jadeja is not alone. The dormant gangs of Porbandar seem to be coming back into the picture ahead of the elections. There are three main gangs connected to the businesses of limestone quarrying, transport and petrol pumps ó the Odedaras, Jadejas and Shials. They are said to be involved in smuggling and protection rackets.

Jadeja, 40, has been handling the family's affairs after Santokhben's death in 2011. He faces 18 cases of murder, attempted murder and illegal possession of firearms, among others. Jadeja says he might contest as an independent if the NCP does not field him.

The Congress, meanwhile, is warming up to Porbandar municipal corporation member Hiralal Shial. Shial, 59, is better known as Iku Gagan Shial and is the younger brother of gangster Jasu Gagan Shial.

On November 10, Hiralal was welcomed by state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia at a public meeting of former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar.

Hiralal wields influence over the Kharva community in Porbandar.

Bhima Dula Odedara is the other Porbandar gangster linked to local politics. Odedara, 60, is in Porbandar jail in connection with the murder of Congress activist Mulu Modhwadia. His brother Karsan is the BJP MLA from Kutiyana and was renominated on Thursday.

Bhima is the cousin of Babu Bokhiria, a former BJP minister from Porbandar who was also a suspect in Mulu's murder. Arjun defeated Bokhiria in 2007 but Bokhiria was also renominated.

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