Rajendra Singh Rathore, BJP Legislature Party whip, named in CBI charge sheet

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team enquiring into the Dara Singh encounter-killing on Friday named former Minister and BJP Legislature Party whip Rajendra Singh Rathore in its charge sheet. In all, the charge sheet submitted in the Special Court named 16 persons, of whom 14 are police personnel.

Liquor smuggler Dara Singh, alias Dariya, who hailed from Rajgarh in Churu district, was killed on October 23, 2006, during the regime of the BJP government in the State, in an alleged encounter with the Special Operations Group in the Mansarovar police station area of the State capital. The CBI took over the case in 2010 following a Supreme Court order made on the basis of a petition from Sushila Devi, the widow of the deceased.

The then Superintendent of Police, A. Ponnuchamy, was arrested on May 15 this year in connection with the case. While a warrant is pending against Additional Director General of Police (Home Guards) A.K. Jain, Mr. Ponnuchamy, now Inspector General of Police (State Crime Records Bureau), is in judicial custody. A warrant has been issued also against Additional S.P. Arshad Ali. Seven police personnel have been arrested in the case so far.

Ever since the CBI started investigations, the BJP circles here have been apprehensive of Mr. Rathore's political fortunes getting affected. Mr. Rathore is close to former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. He reportedly had a rivalry with the liquor contractor for whom Dara Singh was working.

In the case of Mr. Rathore, the CBI charge sheet mentioned that it needed to question him. The agency also sought the court's permission to interrogate Mr. Rathore, who is representing Taranagar in Churu district in the State Assembly.

Mr. Rathore, who had been a member of the Cabinet under the late Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as well, held the portfolios of Public Works Department and Parliamentary Affairs during the Raje regime. The charges include murder, conspiracy and kidnapping.

Denies involvement

Reacting to the CBI charge sheet, Mr. Rathore denied involvement in the case. “I never had heard the name of Dara Singh until I read about him in the newspapers after his death,” he told media persons in the BJP State office here. “I never had any relation with any liquor-raiding party in the past,” he said. Dara Singh was a member of the flying squad deployed by a liquor contractor to check the sale of illicit liquor.

“This is a political encounter by the Congress through the CBI,” Mr. Rathore alleged a political motive behind his being named. “I have been active against the Congress for the past three decades and have won from the same Assembly constituency five times,” he said. Mr. Rathore also offered to undergo narco test if needed, to prove his innocence.