TEHELKA NOW has the most damning piece of evidence against the man at the centre of all the controversy in Gujarat: Minister of State (MoS) for Home Amit Shah. The evidence implicates him and police officers who worked at his behest to cover up the fake encounter that killed Tulsiram Prajapati on December 28, 2006. The latter was the solve surviving witness to the December 2005 police encounter that killed Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi.
The call records for the week in which the planning and execution of the Prajapati encounter took place are in TEHELKA’S possession. Calls exchanged by Shah, DIG DG Vanzara, Superintendent of Police (SP) Vipul Kumar, IPS officer Dinesh MN of Rajasthan Police and SP Rajkumar Pandyan of the Gujarat Police suggest a sinister plan to eliminate the sole witness in the state-executed Sohrabuddin encounter.
While the revelation that the officers constantly talked with each other the night of the encounter comes as a big shock, what is even more damning is the fact that they were talking to the MoS. As per protocol, an MoS normally talks to the Home Secretary and the Chief Secretary. If he needs to be briefed, he talk to the chief of the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) or the crime branch. He would not normally talk to SP-level officers.
Tulsiram Prajapati and Sohrabuddin Sheikh, it has been established, were extortionists working at the behest of elements in the Gujarat and Rajasthan police, as proved by the arrest of high profile officers like Abhay Chudasama in May this year. TEHELKA in its revealing report on the findings of the CBI inquiry (Not All’s Well with Your Home, Minister, June 5, 2010) had exposed the role of these officers in the Sohrabuddin as well as the Prajapati case. It had also first reported the evidence against Shah and his involvement in the state-led encounters.
This evidence was with the state CID for the past four years. The cops were in custody for the first encounter
Following on that, it now presents evidence that vindicates its stand that the minister was indeed party to the Tulsi Prajapati encounter, a case which is still with the CID (Crime) of the state. This department, which had slept over the files for the past four years, suddenly sprang into action after the case was handed over to the CBI by the Supreme Court
What is equally shocking is that this evidence was with the state CID for the past four years. Officers like Vanzara, Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandyan — who are now proved to have been a part of the Prajapati encounter — were already in its custody in the Sohrabuddin case. It also needs to be noted that the man who first arrested the three officers was later summarily transferred and the case was handed to IGP Geeta Johri, who was later pulled up by the Supreme Court for not making headway in the two encounter cases. The apex court, while transferring the case to the CBI in response to a petition filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, observed, “Geeta Johri was not conducting the investigation in a fair manner.”
What also went against Johri were attempts by the CID not to take into consideration the call records that were in her possession, going by the claims of advocates representing the case for Prajapati’s family. Advocate Mukul Sinha, whose organisation Jan Sangharsh Manch has been fighting to expose the various encounters and is also representing the case filed by Prajapati’s mother Narmada, sent in a notice to CID to stop investigating the case on her behalf as he felt that the CID’s sudden interest in the case was suspicious.
BUT WHAT is the real story of Tulsi Prajapati? It is important to know the chain of events that preceded the encounter to establish the connivance of the state and the police officers in the conspiracy.
• On December 13, 2006, VL Solanki, investigating officer of CID (Crime), seeks permission to proceed to Rajasthan to record the statement of Prajapati, the only witness in the Sohrabuddin case. Permission denied by the Gujarat CID
• Gujarat ATS chief DIG Vanzara transferred as DIG Border Range (as the encounter site in Banaskantha falls in the same jurisdiction)
• Tulsiram Prajapati addresses letter to the Udaipur court (where he has been arrested in a murder case), that on his way to depose in a firing case he will be killed in a fake encounter
• Summons issued to Rajasthan police by the Ahmedabad police asks Tulsi to be present in court in the Navrangpura Popular case
• On his way back to Rajasthan, just as Prajapati fears, he is shot dead. In the FIR filed by the police at that time, it is said that in the train, his accomplices threw chilli powder in the eyes of the police escorts and fired on the police escort
HOWEVER, THE statements of the officers and the forensic reports contradict this. FSL reports say there was a possibility that the injury inflicted upon Ashish Pandya, the senior Inspector who shot at Pandya, could have been self-inflicted. There was no trace of chilli powder in the compartment and one of the bullets, which was fired at the police officer, was from a 0.38 bore revolver, used by the police force.
On the basis of these call records, a former CID officer was on the verge of questioning the MoS in 2007
Moreover, the chain of events that night also laid bare the contradictions that the officers gave in their statement. According to an ex-investigating official in the case, the decision to kill Prajapati was taken on December 25 itself between DIG Vanzara, highranking officials and the Home Minister. Vanzara asked Vipul Agarwal to get his trusted officer Ashish Pandya who was posted with the Banaskantha unit to cut short his leave and report to work. Vipul Agarwal takes a night shift on December 27, is in constant touch with Vanzara and Pandyan. On December 28 at 4.30 am, the officials proceed from Ambaji with three counterparts from the Rajasthan Police and the fatal encounter takes place at 5 am.
Shah makes the last call on December 27 to Rajkumar Pandyan, who is planning the entire controversy. Vipul, Rajkumar and Vanzara are in touch with each other through thatnight and early the next morning till the encounter takes place. Even if one were to go by protocol in this case, what also goes against Dinesh MN, the Rajasthan cop, is that he had been in touch with Vanzara and Pandyan from as early as December 20, 2006. This, when there was no news that Prajapati would be even brought in by Rajasthan Police to Ahmedabad. It is on the basis of these call records that a former CID officer was later shunted out as he was on the verge of questioning Shah in 2007 itself.
Not just this, Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandyan and Dinesh MN, who were taken into custody for their involvement in the Sohrabuddin encounter, have still not been arrested in the Prajapati case. The CID did have these records, which is proved by an affidavit by Geeta Johri herself that the call records had been ‘misplaced’. Johri was the investigating officer in the Sohrabuddin as well as Prajapati cases. In the affidavit submitted as early as 2007, a copy of which is with TEHELKA, Johri says, “I say that the CD containing the call data was being supervised by the then IG Rajnish Rai when the aforesaid was supervising the said case. All other data subsequently collected pertaining to the call records is very much available with the investigating officer of the ATS and all data relevant in the case has been brought on record.”
A former investigating official of the CID who had been a part of the investigating team also says that the reason why Vanzara and Pandiyan were not taken in custody in the Prajapati case is because this would directly link them to the Sohrabuddin case. Not just them, but also Shah, who has until now been shielded.
Congress leader Arjun Modwadia, when asked to comment on the call records accessed by TEHELKA, said that he had been asking on this very basis for the arrest of Shah and Narendra Modi. “What more evidence does the CID need? Not just Amit Shah, whose role is established in all the encounters in Gujarat, but even Narendra Modi should be arrested. Why was Vanzara transferred as DIG Border Range just days before the encounter takes place in that area? I would ask on behalf of the Gujarat Congress to hand over the Tulsi Prajapati encounter also to the CBI”.
CBI officials investigating the case maintain that in spite of the Supreme Court directing the CBI to investigate the larger conspiracy, they had never been provided with the call records and papers pertaining to the Prajapati case. It was only when the CID realised that one of the key IPS officers Vipul Agarwal who was involved in the case could be caught, that they quickly arrested him in May and for the first time gave a statement that Prajapati encounter looked to be fake. Advocate Mukul Sinha, fighting the case on behalf of the Prajapati family, alleges, “Tulsi was killed at the behest of Shah and certain other politicians from Rajasthan as he was the star witness in the Sohrabuddin case.
In our previous story we had mentioned that the noose was tightening around Shah. Now we have evidence that directly indicts Shah in the case. The CBI, which has been gathering evidence to arrest Shah and has got witnesses testifying against him under Section 164 of the IPC, is also looking forward to making one of Shah’s closest aides a witness in the case, equipped also with the phone records. An official from the CBI investigating the case says that they have still not managed to get together some significant phone records of the 2005 Sohrabuddin encounter, which have either been destroyed or botched up and which directly show Amit Shah’s telephonic records also during the Sohrabuddin encounter
SO THE question remains: how long will the state be able to protect Amit Shah, against whom all evidence is now present? How will it be able to justify its inaction in various corruption cases against the Minister of State for Home, which also directly link the Chief Minister of Gujarat? A 2005 report submitted by then Additional DGP CID Kuldeep Sharma to the then Chief Secretary of the state Sudhir Mankad has alleged that Shah accepted a bribe of Rs 2.5 crore through his intermediary Girish Dani from scamster Ketan Parekh. The report, a copy of which is available with TEHELKA, shows that Dani had organised a meeting between Shah and Ketan Parekh at his residence in October 2004 and 31 phone calls were exchanged between Shah and Parekh. Parekh, who was involved in the famous Rs 1,600 crore Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative scam (Shah is the director of Madhavpura Bank) had taken a bribe from Parekh to withdraw the special leave petition against Parekh. No action was taken against Shah on the report filed by the CID asking CM Narendra Modi to conduct an inquiry in this case. The officer involved in preparing the report was later chargesheeted and now languishes in an inconsequential posting. The bigger question now is: in the face of all this evidence, will the BJP still be able to shield Narendra Modi?
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