The Supreme Court's involvement in the Sohrabuddin encounter case means there's no way out for Gujarat's Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, says Vicky Nanjappa, who delves into what the apex court had to say on the matter
The Sohrabuddin fake encounter case has take a major turn with the Central Bureau of Investigation making Gujarat's Minister of State for Home Amit Shah an accused in the case.
This particular case has had several twists and turns prior to the Supreme Court's directive to hand over the case to the CBI.
The entire matter kickstarted before the Supreme Court when Rubabuddin, brother of the deceased, sent a letter to the apex court in December 2005 alleging that on November 23, 2005, Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi were traveling in a bus from Hyderabad to Sangli. On the same night a team comprising police officers from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan stopped the bus and picked them up. On November 26, 2005, Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter by the police and at that time there was no trace of Kausar Bi.
The Supreme Court treated the letter as a petition and forwarded it to the Gujarat director general of police for further inquiry. The DGP forwarded it to the state CID (crime) and the inquiry was handed over to Geetha Johri, IGP. The latter constituted a team of officers who in turn visited Hyderabad, Jharnia, Madhya Pradesh and recorded several statements from witnesses.
Four reports were submitted giving the following summary:
Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi on 22-23/11/2005 were travelling in a bus bearing number KA-05-AF-5051 from Hyderabad to Sangli.
Rajkumar Pandiyan SP, ATS; N H Dabhi, PI, ATS; Santram Sharma, police constable, ATS; Jadeja, driver, ATS; and Gurudayal Singh, driver ATS were present at Hyderabad on 21-22-23/11/2005.
Dabhi Santram Sharma, Jadeja and Gurudayal Singh started from Ahmedabad at around 1900 hrs on 20/11/2005 in a private Qualis car and reached Hyderabad at around 20.00 Hrs on 21/11/2005.
On 22/11/2005 Dabhi instructed Ajay Parmar to make two fake number plates for Qualis car. On instruction Ajay Parmar made two fake number plates whose number started AP-II, which were fitted in the Qualis car.
On 21/11/2005, Rajkumar Pandiyan met Radhakrishnan, an IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, who was on deputation to CISF Hyderabad, at his residence in Hyderabad.
On 22/11/2005 Rajkumar Pandiyan was present in the IPS mess, Hyderabad, along with two sub inspectors and five policemen of Andhra police and other ATS police personal named above.
On 22/11/2005 Pandiyan, Santram Sharma and Dabhi started from the IPS mess Hyderabad in the same Qualis with fake number plates followed by two Tata Sumo cars, where in one car the Andhra Pradesh police were sitting and in the other car two personnel of Andhra Pradesh police along with Gurudayal Singh were sitting.
On 22-23/11/2005 in the night hours the Qualis with Rajkumar Pandiyan intercepted the bus bearing number KA-05-AF-5051 on Hyderabad-Bombay highway and stopped it. Thereafter the policemen from the Qualis entered the bus and picked up Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi.
On 23/11/2005 Parmar arranged a farmhouse named Disha-Farm House, Jamiyatpura village, near Adalaj, Gandhinagar, to keep Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi. Two days later he was taken away by the officers. The next day Kausar Bi was taken by some policemen in a Maruti car.
On 26/11/2005 at around 0330 hrs in the night Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandiyan, Dabhi and officers of Rajasthan police left the ATS office. At around 0400 hrs in the night Dabhi called Parmar and instructed him to bring a Hero Honda Splendor motorcycle lying in the backyard of the ATS office to Narol circle. In about 25 minutes Parmar reached the Narol circle and at that time and place the vehicles of ATS including the vehicles of DIGP Vanzara and SP Rajkumar Pandiyan were parked and all the aforesaid officers were present there. Sohrabuddin was pulled out of the Maruti car and thrown on the road.
Police Inspector Abdul Rehman from his service pistol fired two rounds, ASI Ramsingh one round, ASI Himanshusingh two rounds and PI Dabhi three rounds on Sohrabuddin. Vanzara instructed Parmar to take Sohrabuddin to the Civil Hospital.
The Amith Shah angle: During the course of the hearing before the Supreme Court, it was observed that everything was going on smoothly and none of the officers probing the case faced no hurdle. However, as soon as the statements of witnesses pertaining to the confinement of Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi at the farmhouse came to be recorded, Vanzara and Pandiyan brought this to the notice of Amit Shah.
It transpires that Shah brought to bear pressure on some of the officers to suspend the inquiry and also took away the papers under the guise of scrutiny. It is learnt that Amit Shah directed G C Raigar, additional director general of police, CID (crime & railways) to provide him with the list of witnesses, both police and private, who are yet to be contacted by the CID (crime) for recording their statement in the said enquiry. Such directions from the minister of state for home goes beyond the scope of his office, it was argued.
It was further submitted that Shah called for a meeting of these officials probing the case on January 30, 2006, during which he tried to influence the investigating agency into believing that Kausar Bi was not a lawfully married wife of Sohrabuddin and that she might have run away somewhere. It is reliably learnt that the minister, in the course of conversation with the senior officers, had admitted in cavalier manner that Kausarbi had been killed as well.
Conclusion by the Supreme Court:
It is established that Sohrabuddin and wife Kausar Bi were travelling in a bus going from Hyderabad to Belgam, en route to Sangli, on the night of 22/23.11.2005. The ATS team headed by Rajkumar Pandian intercepted the bus, detained Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi along with one another. The husband and wife were brought to Ahmedabad, after which Sohrabuddin was killed in fake encounter on 26.11.2005 in the morning and Kausar Bi is missing till date, reportedly killed.
This is a very serious matter for several reasons, the least being the fact that the police force of one state, namely, Gujarat, travelled to another state, Andhra Pradesh, detained two citizens, brought them back, of which one was killed and other disappeared. This was done with the collusion of police force of the third state, Rajasthan. It brings into sharp focus the unbridled powers of the police, especially unscrupulous police officers, and the safety of an ordinary citizen going about his daily routine in our society.
The collusion of state government in the form of Amit Shah, MOS for home, is by far the most serious aspect of this entire sordid episode. This makes a complete mockery of the rule of law and is perhaps an example of the involvement of the state government in a major crime. Safety of the life of a citizen is a Fundamental Right; the constitutional implication requires to be examined in the true spirit.
For the above reasons, it is recommended that the entire enquiry should at once be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation including the encounter in the death of Sohrabuddin, the disappearance of Kausar Bi, and the death of Tulsiram Prajapati in a police encounter. It is further recommended that the CBI may be directed to constitute a special investigation team so that all facets are thoroughly investigated and culprits brought to justice as quickly as possible.