ANDHRA PRADESH

A.P. ready for CBI probe

Role of policemen in killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in Gujarat

Standing counsel to convey decision to Supreme CourtNothing concrete to pinpoint involvement, say police

HYDERABAD: In the wake of allegations about the role of its policemen, the Andhra Pradesh Government has expressed its readiness for an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the kidnapping and killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and another person in Gujarat.

Top police officials said the State Government had orally asked its standing counsel in the Supreme Court to convey its decision to the court in order to clear their names.

They maintained that discreet inquiries did not show any involvement by the Andhra Pradesh police in the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and the killing of his business partner, Tulasiram Prajapati, and Kausar Bi. Barring the exchange of insignificant information between the Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat police, there was nothing else to pinpoint their involvement, they said.

Picked up near Sangli

A police team had picked up the trio near Sangli in Maharashtra while they were bound for Belgaum from Hyderabad by a bus on the night of November 22, 2005.

The bus was initially intercepted by a Qualis van that allegedly bore an Andhra Pradesh registration number. The bus was allowed to go after the three persons were taken away.

Four days later, Sohrabuddin was killed in an "encounter" in Ahmedabad. A habeas corpus petition filed in court by Sohrabuddin's brother brought to light the killing.

The Andhra Pradesh Government's decision comes at a time when the Gujarat Government is opposing a CBI inquiry on the plea that investigation into a criminal case was the sole prerogative of the State Government and that it had already arrested three top police officials.

Meanwhile, M.A. Basith, Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police, told The Hindu that the State Government had initiated steps to verify whether its policemen had a role in the kidnapping and killings as alleged in the report submitted by Gujarat to the Supreme Court.

The Government has asked its standing counsel to obtain the report.

"We will see who is involved after studying the report," Mr. Basith said, adding that there was no way the police could act in the matter unless they had some basis. "Where do we start otherwise?" he asked.

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