AHMEDABAD: A co-passenger has admitted that he was present when former Gujarat BJP MLA Jayanti Bhanushali was shot dead in a first-class coupe of a train, the state CID said Thursday.
The investigators also said they were trying to ascertain the whereabouts of BJP leader Chhabil Patel, the main suspect in the case.
Bhanushali, 53, was shot dead on a moving train when he was returning to Ahmedabad from Bhuj Tuesday.
After intense questioning, Pavan More, who was travelling in the same compartment, admitted that Bhanushali was killed by two men in the first-class AC coupe, an official said.
More had told the police earlier that he was in the washroom when Bhanushali was shot dead and he found out about the killing only when he returned to the coupe.
"Now he has revealed he was in the coupe when the attack took place. Though he also claimed he was sleeping, may be to avoid hassles (of police probe)," said Director General of Police, CID- Crime and Railways, Ashish Bhatia.
The CID is also trying to trace Chhabil Patel.
Patel's son Siddharth had told police that he was in the United States for some business-related work.
"We cannot believe someone's claim blindly. We are still probing this aspect," said Superintendent of Police Bhavna Patel, who is part of the seven-member special investigation team (SIT) of the CID which is probing the case.
The CID has sought a list of persons who flew out of the country from the Ahmedabad airport during the period when Bhanushali was killed, said Deputy Superintendent of Police (CID) J P Raol, who is also part of the SIT.
The first information report (FIR) registered at the Gandhidham railway police station in Kutch names Patel, his son Siddharth and four others as "suspects", but not as accused.
Bhanushali had stepped down as Gujarat BJP's vice president in July last year after a woman accused him of rape.
The High Court quashed the case after she withdrew the complaint.
Bhanushali represented Abdasa Assembly constituency in Kutch from 2007 to 2012.
Chhabil Patel, then with the Congress, defeated him in the 2012 Assembly election.
Within two years, Patel switched sides and joined the BJP but lost the bypoll for the seat in 2014.
In 2017, the BJP chose Patel over Bhanushali for Abdasa seat, but he lost to a Congress candidate.
Bhanushali's nephew Sunil Bhanushali alleged in the police complaint that Patel held Jayanti responsible for his defeat in 2014 and 2017 and held a grudge against him.
He also alleged that Chhabil Patel and others made a CD which showed his uncle in a compromising position with a woman.
When Bhanushali refused to retire from political life as demanded by Patel, the latter allegedly hatched the murder conspiracy, the complaint said.