Underworld connections, smuggling of arms and RDX, connivance of cops, politicians and gangsters, fake IB inputs — the story of the Gujarat encounters is now a Molotov cocktail. It was to whitewash all this that Sohrabuddin’s activities were given a communal colour, which gave the double benefit of building Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the Hindu Hridaya Samrat.
As new leads emerge in the encounters that took place in Gujarat since 2003, the truth spilling out is damning for the ministers and cops of Gujarat. TEHELKA has managed to cull out IB inputs and letters written by ‘encounter cops’ and ministers to reveal the shocking truth of a state called Gujarat. These give a preview into the larger conspiracy which will be revealed in months to come as investigations into the encounters progress.
Exhibit A is a letter dated 12 October 2006 written by DG Vanzara, then DIG in the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) to PC Pande (DGP). Written soon after Vanzara was shifted to ATS from the Crime Branch, it offers proof he overlooked not just the encounters but investigations into the encounters which had been staged by his team of officers in connivance with politicians. These encounters ended the lives not only of Ishrat Jahan and Sohrabuddin and subsequently Tulsi Prajapati but of 19-year-old Sadiq Jamal, about whom the police projected as wanting to kill Modi because of the riots.
Vanzara writes in the missive: “I met with Shri KR Kaushik, Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad City at his chamber on date 10/8/06 at 1700 hours, and had requested him again that there has been no cooperation by the Crime Branch, and he had given very positive response in this regard and had said to me that he will instruct Shri PP Pandey in this regard. There have big terrorist incidents happenings in the country. All of Gujarat State and VIPs over here are number one target of terrorist organisations like HuJI and LeT. Intelligence inputs coming from all over also show threat for Gujarat.”
The letter, investigators now believe, was written not to protect the state from imaginary terrorist threats but to get hold of files with the Crime Branch in order to authenticate and justify further fake encounters. This is corroborated by an IB input exclusively with TEHELKA dubbed ‘SECRET MESSAGE’ and dated 29 November 2002 which was passed on by then IB joint director Rajender Kumar marked to DGP K Chakraborty (No:6/CR /snw-Peak/2002/703, Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, Ahmedabad-4). It says that riot victim Sadiq alias Ayub Islam alias Jamal could be found at his maternal uncle Ajju Bhaiyya’s place near an STD booth at Bhavnagar bus stand.
If the petition filed in the Sadiq case before the High Court is to be believed, then the Dy SP of Bhavnagar started harassing the family a month later from 23 December. The police had told Sadiq’s family that they were looking for the boy in a gambling case – an FIR had been lodged on 9 November under the Gambling Act. The frightened family had not revealed his whereabouts, so this input from IB helped the tainted cops in their mission. The report filed by the team of cops led by Vanzara later suggested that Sadiq was killed as he was on his way to eliminate Narendra Modi and Praveen Togadia. But this encounter took place on 13 January 2003, much after the dignitaries had already visited Bhavnagar, going by a list of VIP visitors touring the riot-hit area accessed by TEHELKA.
DG Vanzara said Sadiq was killed as he was on his way to eliminate Modi and Togadia
The truth probably lies in an affidavit filed by journalist and MCOCA detainee Ketan Tirodkar in which he says that he, along with encounter cop Daya Nayak, handed over Sadiq Jamal to DG Vanzara at Borivali National Park in Mumbai where Vanzara had come in posing as a human rights official. If the Gujarat HC hears the petition in the case this month is to take this into consideration, then very uncomfortable truths about the IB inputs would be raised. And as the petitioner in the Sadiq Jamal case Mukul Sinha points out, this will blow the lid off perhaps the first ever political killings in the state.
In light of all this, it would be logical to question the activities of the same set of IB officers from the 2002 Godhra carnage until 2005, when the Ishrat and Sohrabuddin encounter took place. The Supreme Court is all set to appoint a new Special Investigation Team or ask the CBI to look into the larger political conspiracies in the state. The various strands are all coming together as the Supreme Court gets set to give its verdict on handing the Tulsi Prajapati case to the CBI on 25 August and the Gujarat High Court simultaneously starts hearing the petition filed in the Sadiq Jamal encounter.
The investigations into the larger conspiracy will now revolve around the liaison between the politicians and cops involved in the Sohrabuddin encounter not just in 2005 and 2006 but also through the events that led to the encounter from 2004 on the basis of evidence and call records which are in TEHELKA’s possession. For starters, the foundation of the Sohrabuddin case as has now been understood from the chargesheet filed by the CBI is the Popular Builders firing case in which owners of the property Raman and Dashrath Patel are now CBI witnesses. While the BJP is going into overdrive denying the fact that Amit Shah did not make any phone calls during the Sohrabuddin encounter, call records culled by TEHELKA show that the MoS was in constant touch with all the players in the Popular House firing case including chargesheeted Yashpal Chudasama and Ajay Patel — the men who were at top positions in the Ahmedabad Cooperative Bank and who were seen threatening the brothers in the sting. Also implicated is the Valsad SP Abhay Chudasama who is now behind bars for his role in the extortions.
It is logical to question the activities of the same set of cops from the Godhra carnage till 2005
Not just this, TEHELKA has accessed an application written by the Patel brothers to the Chief Minister and the response to this from the Home Department, which is the usual bureaucratese that the CM has communicated the complaint to the concerned people and will have his department investigate the matter. Raman Patel tells TEHELKA that the CM’s office and the Home Department ignored their requests into a fair investigation into the firing done with the connivance of cops including Chudasama and investigated by DG Vanzara, who was then with the Crime Branch. Interestingly, this was also the time when Abhay Chudasama carried out nine encounters in Valsad where he was posted as SP, including that of an arms smuggler called Haji who had links with the underworld. The CBI is now investigating Chudasama’s underworld links as Haji who is believed to have been bumped off as per a supari (contract to kill) given by the Chhota Shakeel gang. Interestingly, not just these events that took place in late 2004 which later led to the Sohrabuddin encounter in 2005 and Tulsi Prajapati encounter in 2006, what also preceded the Popular Builders firing in 2004 was the Ishrat Jahan and Javed alias Pranesh Pillai encounter which took place in June 2004. An encounter in which the IB gave inputs to the Maharashtra police which the lawyers claim were never received by the Mumbai Police. As Vrinda Grover, counsel for Ishrat Jahan’s family says, “The IB input into the encounter was itself fake. We have checked with the Mumbai Police and have been told that no IB input was sent to them. There are cops and IB officials who should be questioned,” she says, pointing to the veracity of the IB information in the encounters. This rings true as the Tamang report whose findings were upheld by the Gujarat HC a week before do point at the role of then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner KR Kaushik. In fact, if the findings of the CBI which has also got leads into the case are to be believed, a top state police official went to question Ishrat while she was kept at Arham Farms. Investigators says Ishrat was coerced into making calls on Pakistan numbers to prove her links to LeT and HuJI, outfits based in that country.
Photo Top: AFP, Bottom: Truti Patel