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The vehement opposition by the Bhartiya Janta Party in Gujarat over the arrest of Amit Shah seems to be an act lacking substance to divert the attention of the public from the truth. Amit Shah, a prime suspect in plotting the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh was also the Gujarat minister for home and a close associate of chief minister Narendra Modi. The recent disclosure of facts by the CBI points to a major involvement of the state government in this horrifying crime.

The story so far

Sohrabuddin Sheikh, an alleged criminal died on November26, 2005. A few days later his wife’s whereabouts were also unknown. It was claimed by the authorities that he was killed in an encounter while escaping. Later, media exposure revealed that it was a case of fake encounter. Journalist Prashant Dayal unraveled the story in a local daily newspaper that Sohrabuddin was murdered by police officers and his wife Kausar Bi, a witness to the crime too was butchered in cold blood.

Later, the Supreme Court ordered a CID investigation in the case. That’s when the role of several politicians and senior officers came under light. The report prepared by Geeta Johri, a senior IPS officer testified it to be a case of a fictitious encounter. The report also referred to the involvement of Amit Shah in the crime. The state government in 2007 admitted in front of the Supreme Court that the encounter was a fake one. Following political pressure and recommendations in Johri’s report, the Supreme Court ordered CBI probe in January 2010.

The CBI report too emphasized the political façade in the killing, with Amit Shah playing an influential role along with other officers viz. Vanzara, Chaudasma and M.N. Dinesh. Shah was finally arrested on July 25, 2010.

Protest over Arrest

However, it’s difficult to comprehend how the Modi government is now claiming innocence when the state government had itself admitted earlier that it was a staged encounter. Meanwhile, Amit Shah’s behaviour too has not been of a law abiding citizen as Modi asserts it to be. Shah had boycotted summons by CBI more than once. Interestingly, during the period of the probe, there were frequent transfers of top police officers associated with the case, which need the approval of the Chief Minister or cabinet rank home minister. The state government is playing blame games and totally washing its hands off the crime. Tulsiram Prajapati, another witness of the case was also executed in December 2006.

The bigger Question

Sohrabuddin was not a saint. He was accused of extortion and keeping several AK47 rifles in his home. But what is alarming in the entire situation is how the entire legal process is easily violated and the crime is plotted at the political level. A killing disguised as an encounter, witnesses eliminated brutally by none other than the police, legal summons being flouted and when the legal investigation agencies try to perform the job they are accused of fabricating charges. When the government itself is the criminal it’s hard to maintain law and order in an independent and republic country.

Neha Agarwal

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