Shah resigns, continues to evade arrest

CBI investigation into fake encounter in Gujarat triggers BJP-Centre face-off
Last Updated 24 July 2010, 19:37 IST

The Centre on Saturday described the BJP’s “angry reaction” to the CBI investigation as “belated and simulated.”

BJP chief ministers attending the National Development Council (NDC) meeting here supported their Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi’s allegation that the Centre had adopted a “pick-and-choose”policy in the CBI case against Shah.
The minister on Saturday submitted his resignation which was accepted by Modi. However, the whereabouts of Shah, who   dodged the CBI arrest on Friday, are not known.

The CBI, in its chargesheet filed on Friday, alleged that Shah, along with two other accused, tried to hamper its probe and threaten witnesses in the 2005 encounter involving Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi.

The couple were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-terrorist Squad and killed. Three senior police officers— DIG DG Vanzara, Superintendent of Police Rajkumar Pandyan, both from the Gujarat Police, and Superintendent of Police Dinesh MN of the Rajasthan police force—were arrested for “fake encounters.”

According to the CBI, Shah directed Ajay Patel and Yashpal Chudasama, his close confidants and accused, to “convince, coerce, threaten and influence the witnesses on his behalf to conceal the truth from the CBI about the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin.”

Written statements
The 2005 encounter case was transferred by the Supreme Court to the CBI in January this year. The CBI said Ajay Patel had conveyed to two witnesses, Raman Patel and Dashrat Patel, that what they say before the CBI would be provided to them in the form of written statements by DCP Abhay Chudasama, who is also an accused.
Both witnesses had four meetings with middlemen allegedly sent by Shah at separate places. These meetings were videographed by the two witnesses in a discreet manner. This audio-visual recording has been seized by the CBI.

“The transcription of these meetings revealed obstruction and influencing of the witnesses by Shah and Abhay Chudasama,” the chargesheet said.
When Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi were in the illegal custody of Gujarat Police, Vanzara was in constant touch over the phone with Shah,  continuously seeking instructions. Instructions for killing Kauserbi were also given by the BJP leader to Vanzara, who is among four IPS officers arrested in the case, the CBI said.
 Kauserbi was killed in a farm on the outskirts of Gandhinagar. Her body was burnt. Her mortal remains were disposed of in the Narmada river near Bharuch. Modi, who was here to attend the NDC meeting,  said Shah “is completely innocent. All charges against him are fabricated.”

The CBI probe against Shah, a close Modi aide,  had rankled the BJP which on Friday refused to attend the customary lunch organised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the eve of the monsoon session beginning on Monday.  
Referring to the reaction of the BJP, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the BJP had not reacted in January when the Supreme Court handed over the case (the alleged fake encounter in Gujarat) to the CBI.

He pointed out that the CBI had filed the case against Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case as per the direction of the Supreme Court and lawyer Arun Jaitley should have taken note of it. He asked: “Why raise it now. Why this belated and simulated anger. Why express this anger lately?”
DH News Service

(Published 24 July 2010, 03:40 IST)

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