Neena Vyas

Recommends CBI inquiry into Gujarat fake encounter killings

NEW DELHI: The report on the Gujarat fake encounter killings submitted by Inspector General of Police Geetha Johri speaks of "the collusion of [the] State government in the form of Shri Amit Shah, MOS for Home." It says the episode "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."

Ironically, while the Gujarat government has been resisting a CBI investigation into the murder of three innocent persons by a team of police officers and policemen belonging to the Gujarat and Rajasthan police, the Johri report firmly recommends it: "The entire enquiry should at once be entrusted to the CBI."

It is now clear that when all the facts ferreted out by an independent and courageous senior police officer and her team in the course of an enquiry conducted at the instance of the Supreme Court are disclosed, the Narendra Modi government may not be able to escape blame for three murders by Gujarat policemen. Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in cold blood on November 26, 2005, three days after he and his wife, Kausarbi, were seized from a bus on the Hyderabad-Bombay Highway; a few days later, Kausarbi was taken away in a Maruti car by policemen, killed, and her body burnt; and Tulsiram Prajapati, a material witness, was murdered in another fake `encounter' on December 28, 2006.

The Hindu has a photocopy of the explosive 24-page report, "Facts of the Case," plus supporting documents, made available by a privileged source within the Bharatiya Janata Party. Following a letter sent to the Supreme Court by the brother of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in December 2005, the court forwarded the letter petition to the Director General of Police, Gujarat, who entrusted it to the Gujarat State CID (Crime) IG, Geetha Johri, for enquiry. She constituted a team of officers, including Police Inspector V. L. Solanki for this Preliminary Enquiry No. 66/2006 of State CID (Crime). He submitted four interim inquiry reports, dated September 1, 2006, December 7, 2006, December 15-16, 2006, and January 22, 2007, to the IGP.

Ms. Johri neatly sets out the facts relating to the murders that are "prima facie established." In Part B of the report, she records these "important facts" relating to repeated attempts by the accused and Mr. Shah to sabotage the enquiry. The IGP and Mr. Solanki faced "no hurdle" in their enquiry up to a point. "However, as soon as the statements of witnesses pertaining to confinement of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi in the Farm House of Shri Girish Patel at Ahmedabad came to be recorded, it came to the knowledge of Shri Vanzara and Shri Rajkumar Pandian [two of the accused officers]. It is further learnt that these officers brought the above facts to the notice of Respondent No. 2, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Government of Gujarat."

The report states that Mr. Shah "brought to bear pressure" on the enquiry process, with the result that Ms. Johri was directed to suspend the enquiry and the enquiry papers were taken away from her "under the guise of scrutiny." The report also links Prajapati's "escape" from jail and subsequent fake encounter death to the "stalled enquiry."

Mr. Shah even "directed Shri 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 CID (Crime) for recording their statement in the said enquiry. Such direction of Minister of State for Home goes beyond the scope of his office, was patently illegal and apparently designed to provide the same list to accused police officers ... so as to enable them to take measures in their defence." Mr. Shah's influence also led to Ms. Johri being instructed "orally" not to register a First Information Report.

But this was not all. Mr. Shah called a meeting of senior police officers, including the DGP, at Circuit House, Gandhinagar on January 30, 2006. "In that meeting," the report says, "he attempted to influence the Investigating Agency into believing that Smt. Kausarbi 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 [the] conversation with the senior officers had admitted in a cavalier manner that Smt. Kausarbi had been killed as well."

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