By Rana Ayyub
POWER EQUATIONS stand to change in Gujarat after the chargesheeting of former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah for alleged complicity in the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. Now, former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria is set to be questioned by the CBI after key witnesses named him as complicit in the fake encounter. It is alleged Kataria was paid ` 10 crore by the owners of RK Marbles, who got Gujarat IPS officer MN Dinesh to liaise with fellow officers DG Vanzara and Rajkumar Pandian to get rid of Sohrabuddin.
On the eve of the Supreme Court hearing on the petition by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, the case has already managed to ruffle feathers in the BJP’s Rajasthan unit. Vasundhara Raje was chief minister at the time of the Sohrabuddin encounter in 2005 and the subsequent killing of Tulsi Prajapati, the only witness to the earlier encounter.
Kataria is likely to be grilled on the following lines: Why did he fly down to Gujarat on 24 April 2007, a day after the SIT team led by Rajnish Rai arrested the trio of Vanzara, Pandian and Dinesh in the Sohrabuddin encounter case? Why did he ask investigating agencies for the case papers relating to the arrests and the progress made in the case so far?
The SIT case diary, accessed by TEHELKA, suggests that the then Rajas – than IGP, Rajiv Dasod, and the then Gujarat CID chief, OP Mathur, the man who tampered with call records, had asked Rai to give them access to the Sohrabuddin case documents. According to the case diary, Mathur had told Rai that Kataria had reached Gujarat that day and wanted to have a look at the documents. However, Rai told Mathur that he was not obliged to share the papers with others before the matter went to court.
It is noted that Rai refused to hand over the documents to Mathur because he did not want Kataria to see them, as it would hamper the investigation. With Kataria now alleged to have met Amit Shah the same day, followed by Rai getting transferred and Geeta Johri brought in to lead the investigation, the bigwigs managed to remain unscathed. Interestingly, the CBI chargesheet in the Amit Shah case does not detail Kataria’s role, except for the witness statements.
So, will these aspects be enough to expose Kataria, who could, perhaps, also drag Raje into the murky Sohrabuddin case? Investigating officials believe not much can be said at present on whether Raje was in the know of things. In fact, Kataria told the media he was in Gujarat along with Home Secretary VN Singh and DGP AS Gill because Raje wanted to know why Udaipur SP Dinesh was being held by the Gujarat Police.
One of the questions aimed at Kataria will be: Why did he ask investigating agencies for the case papers relating to arrests in the Sohrabuddin case
Interestingly, in the past one week, Modi has got two decades-old cases reopened against police officers. Kuldeep Sharma, the then CID chief who had filed the case against Amit Shah in the Madhopura case, has found a 26-year-old encounter case in which he was involved reopened by the CID. The other case being looked into is the Latif encounter case which took place 13 years ago during the time of Shankersinh Vaghela, who left the BJP to join the Congress.
Photo: Vinita Saini