Prajapati encounter: Ex-minister Shah,ex-DGP Pande,Addl DGP Johri charged

The Gujarat police which first probed the case had given a clean chit to Shah.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: September 5, 2012 1:32 am

The CBI on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against former Gujarat police chief P C Pande,Additional Director General Police Geetha Johri,retired DGP O P Mathur besides former minister of state for home Amit Shah for plotting the murder of Tulsiram Prajapati in a fake encounter in 2006 and destroying evidence.

They were among the 20 against whom the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet before the court of Judicial Magistrate (first class) D R Joshi in Danta,Banaskantha. The Gujarat police which first probed the case had given a clean chit to Shah.

The chargesheet accuses the police officers,including DSP R K Patel,and Shah of murder,criminal conspiracy,destruction of evidence and offences under the Arms Act,said CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra.

Pande,who was the state police chief when Prajapati was murdered,was allegedly aware of the “encounter” plot. Pande—who has done two stints with the CBI and was Ahmedabad police commissioner during the 2002 riots—now works with a corporate house.

Johri was investigating the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case when Prajapati was killed. She was the supervising officer of the case when it was handled by the Gujarat CID (Crime),then headed by Mathur. They are suspected of having tampered with the CDs containing the phone call records of the police officers and politicians involved in the encounters.

Johri is now with the Police Housing Corporation and Mathur has been given a post-retirement job as the director general of the newly-founded Raksha Shakti University.

The Sohrabuddin case probe threw open Gujarat police’s can of worms when then supervising officer Rajnish Rai arrested his colleages,IPS officers D G Vanzara,Rajkumar Pandian,and Rajasthan IPS officer Dinesh M N. Later R K Patel arrested Vanzara,Dinesh and IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal in the Prajapati case. Vanzara,Dinesh and Pandian were already in jail in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. The supplementary chargesheet names Pandian and five Rajasthan policemen. Many of those named are already in jail.

Shah was named the mastermind in the Sohrabuddin encounter case,which the CBI suspected was the fallout of an extortion-related dispute,and was released on bail by the Gujarat High Court but was barred by the Supreme Court from entering Gujarat.

Prajapati was killed in an alleged encounter by a joint team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police on December 28,2006 near Chhapri village of Banaskantha district. The encounter was similar to the one in which his accomplice Sohrabuddin was killed on November 26,2005 and his wife Kauser Bi went missing.

The story unfolded when Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court for the missing Kauser Bi. A preliminary probe found the encounter was staged.

The court in January 2010 transferred the Sohrabuddin case to the CBI citing flaws in the investigations carried out by Johri. The Prajapati case was transferred to the CBI by the Supreme Court while acting on a petition moved by Prajapati’s mother,Narmada Bai,in April last year. The CBI case is that Prajapati was a key witness in the Sohrabuddin abduction and fake encounter case and was liquidated by some of the accused police officers.

The chargesheet was submitted almost near the closing time of 5:30 pm when a CBI team reached the court in the border district of Banaskantha. Pandian’s lawyers submitted an application saying the court did not have the jurisdiction to accept the chargesheet. Mitesh Amin and Robin Mogera said that since the CBI had already registered a fresh FIR in the case in the CBI court in Ahmedabad,the Banaskantha court had no jurisdiction.

Counsel for the CBI,Ejaz Khan,reportedly told the court that there were Supreme Court judgments which held that the investigating agency could submit the chargesheet at a court under whose jurisdictional area the alleged offence took place.

The CBI release said,“The advocates for Amit Shah objected to the filing of the chargesheet on the ground that this court does not have jurisdiction. The court directed the registrar to place the matter before the regular court on September 10.”

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