Dahyabhai Gobarbhai Vanzara (popularly known as D G Vanzara), the Gujarat IPS officer who earned the sobriquet of “encounter specialist” in the post-2002 era, will retire on May 31 in Sabarmati Central Jail, where he has been in judicial custody in three alleged fake encounter cases. His retirement comes even as the other IPS officers, booked in the same cases, are out on bail.
The state government will perform the formality of revoking his suspension and simultaneously pass a separate order of his retirement on May 31, the day Vanzara turns 60. He will be entitled to temporary pension (locally known as kaam chalau pension) which will be about 100% of the regular pension minus the gratuity which is around Rs 10 lakh.
“The government will withhold the gratuity till cases against him is pending. The rule is that if a person is proven guilty, his pension would be cut depending upon the crime. In some cases, pension is reduced to zero, but it varies from case to case,” said a senior police officer. The state government has started the procedure for the formality.
Vanzara, who belongs to Ilol village in Sabarkantha district, joined the Gujarat police in 1980 as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) through the Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC). Seven years later, he was promoted to IPS rank. Vanzara rose to fame as the “super cop” between 2002 and 2006 as DSP at Ahmedabad’s Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) and Deputy Inspector General of police (DIG) in the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS). During these years, the DCB faced charges of carrying out five encounters in which eight people were branded as dreaded terrorists, who had planned to kill chief minister Narendra Modi, and killed. They included two women — Ishrat Jahan and Kauser Bi. The latter was killed to wipe out evidence as she was a witness to the killing of her husband, Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
These encounter killings included Samirkhan Pathan (2002), Sadiq Jamal Mehtar (2003), Ishrat Jahan (2004; three others were also killed along with her), Sohrabuddin Sheikh (2005) and Tulsiram Prajapati (2006). In 2007, Vanzara was arrested by the CID (crime) in Sohrabuddin encounter case when he was posted as DIG (Border Range), along with his juniors, Rajkumar Pandian and Rajasthan cadre IPS Dinesh M N, and other low-rank officers.
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Vanzara created a ripple last year when he shot off his “resignation letter” to the Gujarat government, openly condemning former State Home Minister and current BJP general-secretary Amit Shah, hailing chief minister Narendra Modi as his once-upon-a-time “God”. While the government did not accept the resignation, the CBI examined the letter, but discarded it as inconsequential to the case. The CBI, while giving a clean chit to Amit Shah on Wednesday in the Ishrat Jahan case, cited Vanzara’s letter as containing “general allegations”. “I realised that this government was not only not interested in protecting us, but it also has been clandestinely making all efforts to keep me and my officers in the jail so as to save its own skin from CBI on one hand and gain political benefits on the other,” Vanzara had written in the letter. He said that he adored Modi as “God” who “couldn’t rise to the occasion under the evil influence of Amit Shah”.
In the resignation letter, Vanzara had also mentioned that he would renounce his post-retirement benefits. He had stated, “I have been sacrificing seventh year of my precious life in the different jails of Gujarat and Maharashtra for the sake of love for the country and now I am ready to sacrifice all the hard-earned post-retirement benefits for the sake of same lofty love for my country.”
Over the last two months, his juniors — IPS officers Rajkumar Pandian, Abhay Chudasma, Dinesh M N and other low-rank officers — were granted bail in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. Their suspension may be revoked by the state government in the coming days. However, Vanzara will have to wait for a while in the jail itself. His bail application in Ishrat encounter case has been pending before a CBI special court, against which the agency has lodged its strong objection, arguing that “Vanzara is highly influential who can tamper with the evidence if given bail”.
From the jail, Vanzara received diploma in various shot-term courses, including “Value Education and Spirituality” through distance learning. He has also penned three books – Sinh Garjana (Roar of Lion) in two volumes and Ran Tankar (Battle Cry), a collection of poems on patriotism, spiritualism and humanity.