A former chief investigating officer of the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case on Monday said that Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and four senior police officers benefitted politically and monetarily from the case, Live Law reported. Amitabh Thakur made the statement while deposing before a special Central Bureau of Investigation court in Mumbai.
Thakur said former Deputy Inspector General of the Gujarat Police’s Anti Terrorism Squad DG Vanzara, former Superintendent of Police (Udaipur) Dinesh MN, former Superintendent of Police (Ahmedabad) Rajkumar Pandiyan, and former Deputy Commissioner of Police (Ahmedabad) Abhay Chudasama also gained from the case, according to The Hindu. Thakur, however, said he had no material evidence to “show the persons who were political beneficiaries”, PTI reported.
All the five named by Thakur were discharged by the trial court between 2014 and 2017. Of the 38 people accused in the case, only 22 stood trial. The 22 people accused in the case include police inspectors, assistant inspectors, sub-inspectors and constables and the owner of a farmhouse where Sheikh and his wife Kausarbi were allegedly confined after being kidnapped from a bus on November 23, 2005.
“It is correct to say that as per the chargesheet filed in the case, there was a dual motive in the alleged encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. One was political and another was monetary,” Thakur told special court judge SJ Sharma.
Thakur claimed that Shah was paid Rs 70 lakh in three instalments by Ramanbhai and Dasrathbhai Patel, two builders who were allegedly threatened by Sheikh and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati in an attempt to extort money. The Patel brothers also paid Rs 60 lakh to Vanzara, claimed Thakur.
Thakur, who is currently posted in Odisha as inspector general (law and order), said that the 21 police officers facing trial in the case did not gain “political or monetary benefit from the encounter”. “[They] carried out their jobs as part of a larger transaction and not as part of individual motives,” he said, adding that all the officers were on duty when the alleged encounter took place in 2005, reported The Indian Express.
“It is correct to say that all were following instructions of their superiors and were discharging their official duty,” Thakur said. He also denied that he was asked by the CBI director of that time, Ashwani Kumar to implicate all 22 accused in the case for political mileage.
Sheikh was a wanted criminal killed by the Gujarat Police in an encounter in November 2005, which is alleged to have been staged. Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi were travelling by bus from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra when they were stopped by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police, abducted and shot dead near Gandhinagar. A sub-inspector also allegedly raped Kauserbi before murdering her.
Sheikh’s aide Tulsiram Prajapati was the sole witness to the murders. He was in police custody after the incident but was shot dead in another encounter in December 2006 when the police claimed he was trying to escape.