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Encounter: Gujarat minister to appear before CBI on Friday

Last updated on: July 22, 2010 21:48 IST

Gujarat's junior Home Minister Amit Shah, who is close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday did not show up before Central Bureau of Investigation for questioning in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case but said he will appear on Friday after the agency sent a second summon during the day.

It is for the first time that a state minister has been summoned in connection with the alleged fake encounter by Gujarat police near Ahmedabad in which Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster, was killed on November 26, 2005.

The CBI issued the second summons to the minister of state for home to appear before it at the agency's office on Friday after he did not show up within the stipulated time of 1 pm on Thursday. Modi holds the home portfolio.

The minister said he would appear on Friday after he was given time till 1 pm by the probe agency.

"A second summon has been issued to me for tomorrow. I would make myself available and would answer all questions," Shah said in a statement from an undisclosed location.

Shah, a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, was holding the office as minister of state for home when the encounter took place. The CBI had the option of considering declaring Shah as an absconder and arrest him if he ignored the summons.

Shah also said that he had no role in the encounter and that his name in his capacity as MoS home has "not come on record anywhere."

The minister said he was out of the capital for some "personal work" when the CBI sent summons to his home to appear before it.

"It was difficult to make it in the time limit of 1 pm as I was out of town. This is surprising that a central agency treats a home minister of a sate in this manner. It raises some doubts about their intentions. They could have given time for me to make myself appear before them," he said.

Shah has been recently skipping cabinet meetings including the one held on Wednesday and not attending office. His whereabouts were also not publicly known.

"(Amit)Shah has been asked to appear before us today at CBI office in Gandhinagar," CBI IG P Kandaswamy told reporters earlier in the day.

Kandasway said the summons has been issued to Shah for the purpose of examination as he is "acquainted with the circumstances of the case."

Shah's lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani cast doubts at the urgency shown in issuing the first summons earlier in the day.

"He was given summons at 10.30 am this (on Thursday) morning and asked to come at 1 pm. That itself creates some doubts about the bonafides of the investigation. No accused person gets such short notice to come and anwser a summon for interrogation," he said.

Jethmalani also said Shah will appear before CBI on Friday.

The state government said it will cooperate with the process of law on the issue of summons to Shah.

"I have come to know about it (issue of summons) from media. Whatever is the process of law one would follow it," Government spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said.

The State BJP, meanwhile, lashed out at the Congress for allegedly misusing CBI.

"The Congress is misusing the CBI against BJP-ruled states," BJP leader and MP Vijay Rupani said.

In New Delhi, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "After selective leaks in the media, the CBI has now summoned him. It has established the lowest benchmark."

Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said there should not be any politics on the issue of probe in the Sohrabuddin case.

The CBI took over the investigations of the fake encounter and mysterious murder of his wife Kausar Bi in January this year on the direction of the Supreme Court.

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