Mukul Sinha — advocate for the Jan Sangharsh Manch—representing Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, spoke to Karuna John over the phone from Ahmedabad about the implications of former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah’s being allowed to return to the state in time for the Assembly elections.
What is your reading of the Supreme Court’s directions on Amit Shah?
We would have definitely preferred for Mr Amit Shah to be behind bars, as he is now, also because of his involvement in another heinous crime—the killing of Tulsi Prajapati, the most important witness in the Sohrabuddin case. However, he was grated bail by the high court and the Supreme Court has upheld it and with due respect, we accept it. However, we have to be on the alert that he does not influence the witnesses in Gujarat because there are several cases such as Sadiq Famal, Ishrat Jahan, which are with the CBI. According to us, all these cases are link together, therefore as a former home minister and perhaps the person who is the kingpin in these cases, he will definitely try to influence the witnesses here. We have to be alert about what he is up to in Gujarat.
Otherwise in any criminal matter, people have a right to get bail and there should not be any objection if an under trial gets bail. But this is no ordinary case. Right from 2003 to 2006, there were a series of fake encounters and there is sufficient evidence to establish that the government of Gujarat, at the highest level, was involved in each of these encounters. We already have about 8 IPS officers of top rank in jail.
Was he the home minister while they were serving?
Precisely, this was exactly the period. Elections were held in 2002 and Shah became the home minister. Throughout his tenure, he has been active in doing these fake encounters, what worries us more is that the Assembly elections are coming and to win an election, people like Shah can stoop to any level.
What’s your opinion of the SC’s order to move the case to Maharashtra?
Our opinion is that the Gujarat judiciary is doing very well. In the last few cases it has given enormous justice to the victims including Naroda Patiya and two cases of fake encounters. We were happy the way the judiciary is shaping up and there was no necessity to transfer it. In all the fake encounter cases, it’s only the Jan Sangharsh Manch which is involved. We feel that the Gujarat judiciary was fully competent to handle this case and there was no necessity to send it to Maharashtra.
Are you going to file a review petition?
Yes, I am going to file a review before the SC on behalf of Rubbauddin. We will file the review on both the issues. First, that the case should not be transferred, and second, the granting of bail after the chargesheet in the Tulsi Prajapati case has been filed is not proper. If the Tulsi Prajapti case chargesheet were brought before the SC, we are confident that the SC would not have granted him bail. There is enormous evidence against the former home minister in that case.
Can Shah still legally stand for the elections?
As far as our present law is concerned he can be a candidate. There is no law that bars his candidature. We shall certainly try to make the people aware and develop a public opinion against his candidature if at all he tries.
Is this the last word on Amit Shah?
No, it is not the last word. There are more cases in which he is involved. At the moment we see Shah but there will be many more disclosures in the near future. Shah has, under his supervision and control, brought in several officers in the crime branch, which included Vanzara, Abhay Chudasma, Singhal, Tarun Barot and the like. It was through this group that he was conducting fake encounters. That these were fake encounters has been established. In this situation when there is a prima facie case and the motive is becoming clear. To make ordinary people believe that the Gujarat government can protect the Hindu community from terrorists, they used to kidnap ordinary Muslims and get them killed, then splash it in the media that these were dangerous terrorists.
Take Sadiq Jamal. Yesterday Tarun Barot got arrested. He was supposed to be a popular encounter specialist. This Jamal was a scooter mechanic from Bhavnagar. He was brutally murdered here and profiled as Dawood Ibrahim’s right hand man. Whatever has been happening since 2003 are not sporadic or spontaneous incidents. These are well thought out political encounters to polarise the society and send the message that roots of terrorism had entered Gujarat and that only the BJP led by Narenda Modi can save the Hindu community. This is the message that was clearly been sent. If it was not for the Supreme Court in 2006, we would still be under the same spell and many more would have died.