Ahmedabad: A Sanand resident from the Rajput community, Rajendrasinh Vaghela, who was taken into police custody on 23 January during the protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmaavat, escaped from the Sanand police station with the help of three constables the same night. 

Vaghela, who had been under police surveillance since 22 January, was one of the leaders and chief conspirators of the attacks on multiplexes in Ahmedabad in which at least 30 two-wheelers were burnt, and cars and storefronts were damaged, a senior Sanand police officer said on condition of anonymity.

An investigation by a senior police officer showed that Vaghela, also known as Rajbha, had been in contact with constable Popatsinh Vaghela of the Sanand police, who had provided him inputs on police movement. Rajendrasinh Vaghela had called Popatsinh Vaghela, who also belongs to the Rajput community, on his phone to ask if the Sanand police had received any inputs on him, the senior police officer said, adding that the constable had told the former to keep moving around in a car and not hide at a farmhouse.

In light of the protests in Gujarat against Padmaavat, the state home department had told the police to keep an eye on some members of the Rajput community, including Rajendrasinh Vaghela. The police have now filed a complaint against Vaghela and have declared him absconding. Charges have also been filed against Popatsinh Vaghela and the two other constables for helping Rajendrasinh Vaghela escape custody. The three policemen have also been suspended from duty.