The Gujarat government has rejected the demand for a fresh probe by the CBI into the murder of the former Minister of State for Home, Haren Pandya.

Pandya was shot dead at point-blank range outside the Law Garden here on March 26, 2003, when he was on a morning stroll.

The demand was made by Pandya's wife, Jagruti Pandya, after reports emerged that the CBI, during investigations into the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Kausar Bi murder case, established a link between the two cases.

In a letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi on September 2, Ms. Pandya demanded that the government take up the matter with the CBI for a fresh investigation, citing several lacunae in the earlier probe. Theaccused were convicted by the Special POTA Court and they challenged the verdict in the higher court.

The CBI found that the former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, Abhay Chudasma, who is one of the principal accused in the Sohrabuddin case, was “shielding” the murderers of Pandya. One of the witnesses examined in the Sohrabuddin case told the CBI that Chudasma was protecting Sohrabuddin from being indicted in the Pandya case.

Among those convicted by the POTA court was Ashghar Ali, a Hyderabad-based contract killer, who was said to be known to Chudasma, as was Sohrabuddin Shiekh when he was running an extortion racket allegedly with the help of some officers of the Gujarat police.

In her letter, Ms. Pandya said that while the killers were convicted, the “real masterminds” were not punished. This necessitated a fresh investigation. The initial investigation was carried out by the then crime branch chief, D.G. Vanzara, principal accused in the Sohrabuddin case, she said, and he might have tried to remove the trail leading to the real culprits.

Haren Pandya's father had all along held that the death of his son was a “political murder.” He had pointed an accusing finger at the Chief Minister himself.

A government spokesman said that since the case was investigated and concluded by the CBI itself, there was no question of a fresh probe by the same agency. He pointed out that within hours of Pandya's murder, the government handed over the probe to the CBI, which handled the case properly, enabling the court to sentence the accused to life imprisonment.