CBI had originally named 38 accused in the case, of which 16, including politicians and senior IPS officers, were discharged.
Mumbai: A special CBI court Friday acquitted all 22 accused in the alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
The CBI had originally named 38 accused in the case, of which 16, including politicians and senior IPS officers, were discharged. The remaining 22, mostly low-rung police officers, faced trial. The case was marked with a series of twists and turns as 92 of the 210 prosecution witnesses examined in court turned hostile.
Here’s a list of key players in the case:
Sohrabuddin Sheikh: According to the CBI, Sohrabuddin Sheikh was a wanted criminal, extorting money from marble traders from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The agency said some traders approached politicians and police officers in Rajasthan and Gujarat in a criminal conspiracy to kill Sheikh. After his encounter, the Gujarat Police said he was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative.
Kausar Bi: She was Sheikh’s wife, who according to the CBI, was allegedly abducted along with him. Kausar Bi too is said to have been killed a few days after Sheikh, and her body burnt on a riverbank in Gujarat’s Ilol village.
Tulsiram Prajapati: Prajapati was Sheikh’s associate. CBI said he was travelling with Sheikh and Kausar Bi at the time of their abduction. Prajapati was shown to have been arrested in Rajasthan, and was allegedly killed in a fake encounter in 2006.
IPS officers & politicians who were named as accused and later discharged in the case:
1. D.G. Vanzara, DIG, Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad: Special CBI court judge S.J. Sharma discharged him in 2017, saying the prosecution had not cited any evidence about his presence at the site of either the abduction or the killing of Sheikh, Kausar Bi and Prajapati and the role attributed to him fell within the sphere of discharge of official duty.
- Rajkumar Pandian, SP Gujarat Police: According to the CBI, he was part of the team that abducted Sheikh and Kausar Bi and actively participated in the conspiracy since its inception. He was discharged in 2016 citing a lack of official sanction to prosecute him.
- Dinesh M.N., SP Rajasthan: The CBI said he facilitated Prajapati’s alleged fake encounter and was also a conspirator. The trial court discharged him in 2017, saying there was no prime facie evidence against him and the CBI also did not have official sanction for his prosecution.
- Narendra Amin, Deputy SP, Gujarat: According to the CBI, he was present when Kausar Bi’s body was disposed. The trial court discharged him for lack of evidence in 2016.
- Abhay Chudasama, SP Gujarat: CBI claimed Chudasama played a key role in conspiring to kill Sheikh. He allegedly threatened key witnesses and tried to influence Sheikh’s relatives to withdraw their Supreme Court writ. Chudasama was discharged in 2015 due to lack of evidence.
- Amit Shah, Minister of State, Home, Gujarat: The CBI said Shah was aware of the conspiracy to abduct and kill Sheikh. The investigating agency cited certain call records of conversations between Shah and some IPS officers accused in the case as evidence against the BJP chief. The court discharged Shah in 2014 citing insufficient grounds to frame charges.
- Ajay Patel, Gujarat: The CBI said he pressured witnesses. Court discharged him in 2014 for lack of evidence.
- Yashpal Singh Chudasama, Gujarat: The CBI said Chudasama coerced witnesses. Chudasama claimed he was booked only to be able to build a case against Shah. He was discharged in 2015 for lack of evidence.
- Vimal Patni, marble trader, Rajasthan: The CBI alleged Sheikh tried to extort money from Patni after which the latter called Gulab Chand Kataria, former Rajasthan home minister. Kataria then allegedly called Shah, who instructed the Gujarat Police to search for Sheikh. Patni was discharged in 2015 for lack of evidence.
- Gulab Chand Kataria, Rajasthan Home Minister: Kataria was accused of being part of the conspiracy to kill Sheikh at the behest of the Rajasthan marble traders’ lobby. He was discharged in 2015 along with Patni on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
- N.L. Balasubramanyam, SP, Andhra Pradesh Police: CBI claimed Sheikh, Kausar Bi and Prajapati were abducted when they were travelling from Hyderabad to Sangli. The prosecution alleged that Balasubramanyam accommodated Pandian in Hyderabad and was aware of the conspiracy to kill Sheikh. He allegedly also asked his junior officers to travel with Gujarat Police personnel for Sheikh’s abduction. The court discharged him for lack of evidence in 2015.
- Dalpat Singh Rathod, head constable, Rajasthan Police: Rathod was allegedly part of Prajapati’s killing. He was discharged in 2017 for lack of sanction to prosecute.
- Prashant Pande, DCP, Gujarat: Pande allegedly delayed investigation and was also part of a meeting with Shah, in which instructions to protect the accused were given. The court discharged him in 2015 for lack of sanction to prosecute.
- Geeta Johri, IGP, Gujarat: The CBI alleged Johri delayed investigation and even destroyed some case records. She was also discharged for lack of sanction to prosecute.
- Om Prakash Mathur, additional DGP, Gujarat: He was accused of delaying investigation. He was discharged in 2015 for lack of evidence.
- Vipul Aggarwal, SP, Gujarat: According to the CBI, he ordered the destruction of leave records of the policeman who shot Prajapati and was thus a co-conspirator. The special CBI court initially rejected his discharge plea saying there was prima facie evidence against him. The Bombay High Court, however, discharged him in September this year.
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