The Gujarat state government on Thursday has reinstated police inspector Ashish Pandya, who had allegedly pulled the trigger on Tulsiram Prajapati.
The Gujarat Police, in an order passed late on Thursday, posted Pandya in Rapar police station that comes under Kutch-Gandhidham district as circle inspector. The Rapar police station official said that Pandya is currently on medical leave.
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Pandya was released on bail from the Bombay High Court in December 2014 along with two Gujarat policemen Abdul Rehman, NH Dabhi, and two constables of Rajasthan Police, Kartar Singh Jat and Dalpat Singh Rathod.
He was lodged in Palanpur sub-jail after he was arrested by the Gujarat CID (Crime) in 2010 that was probing the case before the CBI. Pandya was serving his term in Palanpur jail with his former boss, then Superintendent of Police Banaskatha Vipul Aggarwal, who was released on bail in October 2014 and is now in the Health and Family Welfare department of the state government.
After Pandya’s release, the Gujarat Police had expressed its willingness to reinstate him back to the police force. This was first reported by The Indian Express on December 8 when Pandya was released on bail.
Pandya’s reinstatement was an important move as he had resigned from Gujarat Police during his term in Palanpur sub-jail. He had written to the Director General of Police PC Thakur to accept his resignation and provide ‘urgent’ relief in November 2014, a month before his release.
In his letter, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, Pandya had said , “The motive of my joining the force was ‘nationalism’ but I didn’t find any such spirit in this department of Gujarat state after my experience of one and half decade of my service. How this department is working you know better than me so I don’t want to expose anything here. I think that would be better.”
The state police had however not responded to his letter and stated that they will verify the letter with Pandya before taking a call. However after his release, Pandya wrote to the DGP expressing his desire to join Gujarat Police again.
Aggarwal and Pandya, who earlier confided in each other, reportedly had a spat in October last year where Pandya had allegedly slapped Aggarwal inside jail. This had reportedly triggered Pandya’s resignation.
He was allegedly upset with Aggarwal for first using him in the operation and then targeting him during the investigations. During a CBI interrogation, he had also alleged that he was “pressurized” to take up the encounter .
As per the CBI, who later took over the Tulsiram Prajapati encounter case to probe a larger conspiracy in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, Pandya had exposed Aggarwal’s role in the encounter and his nexus with then ATS SP Rajkumar Pandian and then DIG Border Range DG Vanzara (now retired) for planning and executing the encounter. The CBI in their chargesheet had stated that Tulsiram was encountered by Gujarat Police as he was ‘material evidence’ to the murders of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and wife Kausar Bi.
When the State CID (Crime) was investigating the case in 2010, Pandya who was posted in the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Rajkot had fled from Gujarat and surrendered to police after remaining untraceable for more than 15 days. When Pandya went missing, the CID teams had launched several search operations in Rajkot, Bhuj, Ahmedabad and Rajasthan.
Pandya, known as an impulsive cop among his counterparts, was part of the special operation group of Banaskantha police in 2006 when IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal was the SP of Banaskantha district.
Aggarwal had allegedly chosen Pandya, who was a Sub-Inspector then, to lead the team of constables from SOG and Rajasthan special task force to eliminate Tulsiram at Chapri village of Ambaji town in Banaskantha district.