Clean Chit to Amit Shah : Getting Away with Murder

A special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation has declared that BJP president Amit Shah will not face prosecution in the murder cases of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kauserbi and murder witness Tulsiram Prajapati, who were all killed in fake encounters in 2005 and 2006.

The court, under special judge MB Gosavi, said there was not enough evidence against Shah to put him on trial for involvement in the encounter killings. The fact is that only a trial could have determined whether or not there was sufficient evidence to convict Shah. For the CBI Court to give someone accused of murder a clean chit in this manner is unprecedented, and indicates the extent to which the Modi Government has overwhelmed the judicial process and the CBI.

Even as BJP celebrates the clean chit, let us recapitulate the facts of the heinous murders.

In November 2005, Sohbaruddin Shaikh, a petty extortionist and police informed, was traveling with his wife Kauserbi by bus from Hyderabad to Sangli. They were stopped by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police, abducted and shot dead near Gandhinagar. Kauserbi was also allegedly raped by a sub-inspector before being murdered.

Sohrabuddin was extorting money from marble traders to siphon the money to corrupt IPS officers who were close to Amit Shah. But later, marble traders wanted him eliminated, and the very establishment that had nurtured and used him, cold-bloodedly had him killed. Not only that, Kauser Bi, who was no criminal, and whom none yet have claimed was a ‘terrorist’, was also killed in cold blood!

The Gujarat police declared that Sheikh was associated with Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and that he had a plan to kill then chief minister Narendra Modi. A Special Investigation Team monitored by the Supreme Court, later found that they had been killed in a staged encounter. These facts are beyond dispute.

But the trail of blood did not stop there. Tulsiram Prajapati, the sole eyewitness of the murders, and an associate of Sohrabuddin’s, was in police custody. He had begged for protection in open court, declaring that he would be killed. And sure enough, he was shot dead in another encounter in December 2006, with the police falsely claiming that he was trying to escape from custody.

The Gujarat DIG DG Vanzara and Rajasthan police officer Dinesh MN were arrested for the murders, and the CID got hold of call records that revealed that Vanzara as well as police superintendents Rajkumar Pandian and Vipul Kumar were in constant telephonic contact with Amit Shah around the time of the Prajapati murder. The Gujarat CID report noted that the frequency of these calls was “unnatural and uncommon in nature”, since it was not natural for the Home Minister of a State to speak to lower ranking police officers on a constant, minute-to-minute basis.

This kind of telephonic monitoring of the police by Amit Shah, directing them to break laws, was a habit with Shah. One can recall the Snoopgate case, where Shah constantly directed police officers to conduct illegal surveillance on a young woman under then CM Modi’s orders.

The Supreme Court had handed over the case to the CBI after criticizing the biased conduct of the Gujarat police investigators.

In 2010, the CBI briefly arrested Amit Shah who had, by then, quit as the minister of state. He was additionally charged with destruction of evidence and booked under the Arms Act. But he was out on bail three months later.

It may be recalled that DG Vanzara had written a long letter to the Gujarat Government in September 2013, accusing Modi and Shah of ordering the fake encounters, benefiting politically from the murders, and then deliberately letting the police officers remain in prison to save their own skin.

Sohrabuddin’s family saw the clean chit coming, since there were several events running up to it. The CBI Special Judge hearing the case ever since its transfer to Mumbai in 2012 was transferred in June 2014. The Judge was transferred after he reprimanded Shah’s lawyer for skipping court hearings. The CBI’s key officers involved with the case were also transferred. The new public prosecutor made a perfunctory argument in court against Shah’s plea to be discharged from the case. Moreover, the CBI is silent on the question of filing an appeal against Amit Shah’s discharge!

Modi, in his 2007 election speech asked a crowd, ‘What should I do with Sohrabuddin?’ repeatedly, to appreciative cries of ‘Kill him, kill him’. Modi openly celebrated the murder of Sohrabuddin, playing it for votes. No wonder Vanzara, in his letter, said, “It would not be out of context to remind (Modi) that he, in the hurry of marching towards Delhi, may kindly not forget to repay the debt which he owes to jailed police officers who endowed him with the halo of Brave Chief Minister.” The fake encounters paid rich political dividends for Modi. And today, with him as PM, the police officers and Shah are being rewarded with the impunity they demanded.

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