While the Gujarat government admitted in the Supreme Court that Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter, the former Minister Amit Shah has maintained that it was an anti-terror operation and that he was falsely implicated in the case at the behest of the Centre.
Opposing the CBI plea for cancellation of his bail, Mr. Shah said that even during the 2007 Assembly elections, the Centre politicised the case, calling Chief Minister Narendra Modi a “Merchant of Death” (maut ka saudagar) to characterise the encounter as having been motivated by moneymaking rather than an objective of fighting terror.
This was to present the case not as an encounter held to advance the national interest but as a crime committed for monetary gain, and thereby enable the ruling party at the Centre to take advantage of the episode politically and electorally. Mr. Shah said the motive in the changed description of the encounter became evident when the CBI registered a new FIR on February 1, 2010. The charge sheet stated that the crime was a result of an extortion racket, the petitioner said, adding the investigating agency had gone to the extent of saying he was running an extortion syndicate.
Mr. Shah pointed out that the CBI had destroyed the evidence collected in the Navrangpura case of 2004, making all the accused witnesses with the sole object of attributing motive to the crime in question. To support its false theories against the accused, the CBI fraudulently granted pardon to the accused in the ‘Popular Builders case' pending at the stage of framing of charges.
Denying that he had any role in the killing of Tulsiram Prajapati, an associate of Sohrabuddin, the petitioner said that while the Gujarat police had maintained that the third person who travelled by road along with Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi was one Kalimuddin, with whom Sohrabuddin had stayed in Hyderabad prior to his abduction, the CBI concocted a story that the third person was Prajapati, who was an eyewitness to the killing of Sohrabuddin.
(While Sohrabuddin was slain in the encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in November 2005 and his wife was murdered two days later, Prajapati was killed one year later. The couple were abducted when they were travelling by a bus going from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra.)
Mr. Shah alleged that it was evident that Balwinder Singh, heading the CBI investigation of the Sohrabuddin case, was prima facie guilty of suppressing from the Gujarat police the names of five Andhra Pradesh policemen involved, and the entire probe was therefore tainted. Telephone call details provided by the CBI were part of neither the charge sheet nor the supplementary charge sheet to be a piece of evidence.
On the contention that he would tamper with witnesses, Mr. Shah said Azam Khan, Noor Ghoghari and Naimuddin Shaikh (brother of Sohrabuddin) had either retracted or clarified their statements. Further, none of them had implicated the petitioner which would require him to manage their retractions. Mr. Shah asserted that he did not exert any influence on them to retract their statements.
The allegation that he would tamper with witnesses was part of the script prepared by the CBI, as desired by the ruling party, to oppose bail for him, Mr. Shah said. Contending that there was no ground for cancellation of the bail granted by the Gujarat High Court, he sought dismissal of the CBI's appeal, due to come up for hearing on December 14.