By Saahil Menghani:
Sohrabuddin Sheikh, an alleged extortionist and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist was abducted along with his wife on the night of Novemeber 22 near Tandola village and on Novemeber 26, he was killed in Ahmedabad. His wife was given the same treatment though her remains are missing till date. (Kauserbi’s body was burnt and her ashes were thrown in the Narmada river).
Sohrabuddin was claimed to be a terrorist [by the ATS] who had been planning to assassinate the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The over-constitutional slaying of Sohrabuddin, wife Kauserbi and aide Tulsi Prajapati caused a national outrage and recieved nation wide condemnation. Around 100 grenades, Rs. One lakh worth of ammunition and 40 AK-47 rifles were recovered from Sohrabuddin’s house.
Prajapati was arrested in Udaipur on November 29, 2006 and was probably the only known eye-witness to the encounter of Sohrabuddin. Police had claimed that Prajapati was killed after he made an escape attempt on being escorted back to the Udaipur jail from a hearing at a Gujarat court on December 26, 2006. Even questions have been raised over the authenticity of Prajapati’s encounter.
Defying the claims of Police, Sohrabuddin’s brother and mother filed petitions in the Supreme Court in January 2006 demanding a high level and comprehensive probe to testify whether the encounter was fake or not. The SC, accordingly, ordered a probe into the case that was carried on by CID (crime) headed by then IPS officer Geeta Johri.
Ray of speedy justice came when humongous breakthroughs were achieved in a short span of time. On March 23, Gujarat Government officially confessed about the foul play and a month later on April 24, three IPS officers were arrested namely : DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh MN.
Earlier this year (January 12, 2010), Modi’s government got a huge blow when the Supreme Court, disappointed with the progress of probe by state machinery, directed the case to the CBI.
“From a careful examination of the materials on record including the eight Action Taken Reports submitted by the State Police Authorities and considering the respective submissions of the learned senior counsel for the parties, we are of the view that there are large and various discrepancies in such reports and the investigation conducted by the police authorities of the State of Gujarat and also the charge sheet filed by the State Investigating Agency cannot be said to have run in a proper direction, ” the bench lashed at the state police while handling the case to the Central machinery.
On July 27, CBI handed over a charge sheet to Former State Home Minsiter of Gujarat and charged him with kidnapping, murder, extortion and destruction of evidence in the fake encounter killing case of alleged terrorist Sohrabuddin and his wife Kauserbi in 2005. Shah, along with IPS officers D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, M N Dinesh and Abhay Chudasama, have been named as the key accused in the fake encounter case.
Charge sheet apparantely reveals that it was Shah who directed the task to Vanzara, Pandia and Chudasama to do away with Sohrabuddin. The point highlighted in the charge sheet finds weightage after reading well investigated coverage and findings by Hindustan times in this report. [http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/gujarat/SIT-s-proof-against-Shah/Article1-576849.aspx]
“Elimination of Sohrabuddin was being used for extortion by the accused persons to establish an element of fear in the minds of the businessmen and others,” charge sheet exposed the connection of marble traders and also revealed that the police officers played a role in the whole plot owing to terrorizing of Marble lobby by Sohrabuddin.
Shah was arrested on Tuesday after his much dramatized Press Conference in which he lashed out at congress for “misusing” the CBI. BJP defended Shah and termed the charges against Shah as “Fabricated” and “falsely implicated”.
The three day question session begins on Wednesday with CBI expected to grill Shah with 32 questions. The whole quizzing scene, to be held in high security Sabarmati jail, will be video graphed.
LOOPHOLES AND THE INFERENCE
What can be said about the stability and functioning of Gujarat whose State Home Minister goes absconding and no one has even the slightest of clue about him for several days. Where were you Mr. Minister? Were you hatching another plot or devising another strategy?
Is BJP and the party leaders trying to put forward that the encounter was justified and hence not fake? If that’s the case, then why Modi’s government earlier confessed about it’s fakeness? When Modi’s government itself has termed the encounter as fake, then isn’t it misleading when Shah said,”Can anyone say that he (Soharabuddin) was innocent?’
Are the acts like Enemy Act, Armed Forces Special Powers Act being grossly misused to serve the malicious interests. It was SC which handed over the case to CBI on May 3 , 2007 after hearing a petition. Please answer this Mr. Modi, Isn’t BJP’s act of condemning the decision to hand over the case to CBI — in a way condemning the Honorable SC?
According to stipulated guidelines, an arrested officer should be suspended within 48 hours in police custody where as the suspension orders for Vanzara and Pandyan came 12 days after they were arrested i.e May 5. Why special privileges? Does this have something to do with alleged connections with Shah?
Modi’s Government has been accused by the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee President, Bharatsinh Solanki, of taking millions of rupees from marble traders who had a dispute with Sohrabuddin over some financial transactions. Alleged connections between Shah and the marble traders point towards a malicious plot, does the BJP government have validated answers for these allegations?
Fake Ishrat Jahan encounter in 2004, victim- a Muslim. Gujarat riots in 2002, main target- Muslims. Sohrabuddin fake encounter in 2005, victim- a Muslim. Isn’t all this a part of communal hysteria created by political leaders in Gujarat for their precarious and hogging ends? [we still hope it isn’t but this cannot be overlooked]
Amin, one of the three main accused IPS officers, has approved Shah’s involvement in the fake encounter case. “He (Amin) made/received as many as 25 calls from/to Shah between November 21, 2005 and November 30, 2005,” the charge sheet said. Need more on this?
BJP is accusing the CBI to be a remote-run organisation controlled by Congress but what does it have to say about the revelation done (with concrete proof) by the Supreme Court appointed – SIT? The quizzing session will be video graphed, a condition that was put forward by Shah in his press conference and yet he says that there is lack of transparency?
What could be the possible reasons of staging a fake encounter? Monetary-gains, out of turn promotion, political pressure? We can’t really undermine the discriminatory bias factor against Muslims, can we?
Congress, too, is facing the heat with BJP recently declining PM’s lunch offer as their way of protesting the misuse of CBI by the congress party. They have even termed the CBI as ‘Congress Bureau of Investigation’. The whole opposition seems to be uni-vocal in criticizing the congress party. Earlier, even Digvijay Singh openly and blatantly threatened Mayawati to use CBI against her if she did not mend her ways. There is no smoke without fire. It’s high time that Congress should prove its non-interference in functioning of various organs of the government. In fact, greater impetus is on the CBI itself to prove its authenticity and independence if it has to regain its lost glory, maintain its known credibility and solidify its image as an even-handed, honest, trustworthy and bona fide machinery that guarantees un-adulterated justice.
What happens in the Sohrabuddin-Shah case is yet to be seen. We only hope that the truth prevails.
What do you think? Do you agree, or do you think otherwise? Do let us know by dropping a comment below or emailing us at [email protected]. You can also tweet us @YouthKiAwaaz.
The writer is a Special Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and holds special interest in Political and Development Journalism. You can tweet him at @saahilmenghani