One more witness on Tuesday contradicted the CBI’s claim that Tulsiram Prajapati had witnessed the abduction of his associate Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kausarbi on November 23, 2005 from a luxury bus on its way to Sangli. The witness, the wife of the landlord who had rented his house at Bhilwara in Rajasthan to Tulsiram, claimed before the court that Tulsiram had been at home for over “10-15 days” before his arrest, in the end of November. While the witness did not remember the exact date of the arrest, she claimed that Tulsiram, who had introduced himself as Sameer Prajapati, was “very much in Bhilwara”. The CBI has claimed that Tulsiram was abducted along with Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi and was detained and then shown arrested on November 26. The witness was declared hostile.
In April, the witness’ husband and son had also deposed similarly, claiming that their tenant was at home for over 15 days before his arrest. The two, however, were not declared hostile. The witness told the court that on the day of Tulsiram’s arrest, she was at home. She said that Tulsiram used to sell onions and potatoes, and was leaving for work. “I heard a commotion and came out to see. Policemen were arresting Sameer. They told us that his real name was Tulsiram and that he was wanted in a murder case in Udaipur. His hands were tied and the police took him away,” she told the court. In reply to a question by special public prosecutor B P Raju, she told the court that she accompanied her husband to Gujarat and recorded a statement before the court there.
The witness identified accused Ramanbhai Patel, the then officer of Gujarat CID, who was present in the courtroom on Tuesday. She, however, denied that Patel had pressurised her husband and her to lie in their statement. “I was not pressurised by anyone. I stated whatever I had seen,” the witness said. She also denied that she was lying to save the accused policemen, including Patel. The second witness of the day, a man living in the same neighbourhood as the first witness, also told the court that he had seen Tulsiram being taken by the police in the end of November 2005. “I don’t remember the date but it was a Tuesday as I usually am home on that day,” he told the court.
SPP Raju confronted him, stating that he was lying that it was a Tuesday as that year November 29 was a Tuesday and not November 26, the date of arrest claimed by the CBI. The witness, however, denied it. Further, the witness also recognised Patel but denied being pressurised by him. The CBI claims that Patel had intentionally not filed a chargesheet while investigating the alleged fake encounters and pressurised witnesses into giving false statements.
The third witness of the day was a police officer from Rajasthan, who had made an entry regarding a revolver given to accused sub-inspector Narayan Singh from the police armoury. Singh was part of the police team, escorting Tulsiram in December 2006, which claimed that he had tried to escape and was killed in an encounter soon after. The witness denied that the entry was made in his handwriting or that it had his signature. He also refused to identify Singh, who was present in the courtroom. So far, the prosecution has examined 101 witnesses of which 67 have been declared hostile.