A KEYWITNESS in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounters cases has claimed that he faced “unrelenting torture” for 20 days and was, hence, scared to name IPS officers and politicians during his deposition before the special CBI court last month.
Azam Khan, an associate of Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram, filed a plea before the special CBI court on Wednesday seeking to be re-examined as a witness, stating that his testimony is “incomplete” and also sought protection for himself and his wife Rizwana under the new witness protection scheme. Khan’s plea, however, comes two days ahead of the court’s judgment in the case.
“While he (Khan) was able to name one retired IPS officer, he was scared to name other IPS officers and politicians after he was threatened by accused Abdul Rehman (Rajasthan policeman) on the morning of his deposition,” the plea filed through advocates Sarim Naved and Akhilesh Mogra said.
“He (Khan) was specifically told that this was being done on the orders of Abhay Chudasama (accused discharged in 2015) and was also informed that all this had to be done before 27 September, when they wanted Amit Shah to get bail,” it added. Shah was also named as an accused in the case but was granted bail in October, 2010 and was subsequently discharged in 2014.
Khan further said that as he did not have the courage to state large parts of his testimony, crucial material witnesses may also have been reluctant to come to court to depose or may have been afraid during their deposition. He sought them to be examined again after giving them benefit under the new witness protection scheme.
Khan said that a large number of material witnesses have not been examined in the case and no explanation has been given. While there were about 500 listed witnesses in the chargesheets in the case, only 210 were examined by the CBI, of which 92 turned hostile. Khan has named three witnesses, including IPS officer Rajnish Rai, who were not examined. He also claimed that his statement recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code was not exhibited as evidence by the prosecutor. Another witness, Mahendra Zala, had made a similar plea on Tuesday.
While the court is expected to give its judgment in the case on Friday, it will hear both these pleas on Thursday.
Khan has said that his wife was threatened by a person who said that if her husband did not give his statement according to their wishes, “what had happened to Kausarbi, would happen to her” and Khan would meet a fate worse than Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram.
Kausarbi, Sohrabuddin’s wife, was allegedly murdered in November 2005, after the two, along with Tulsiram, were allegedly abducted by the accused from a bus. Sohrabuddin was shown to have been killed in an encounter on November 26, 2005 in Gujarat, while Tulsiram, who was a witness to the abduction, was allegedly killed in a staged encounter a year later on December 28, 2006, the CBI has claimed.
Khan had deposed on November 3 before the special court and claimed that Sohrabuddin had told him that former Gujarat IPS officer D G Vanzara had given a contract to kill Haren Pandya, senior BJP leader and former Gujarat home minister in 2003. Pandya was shot dead on March 26, 2003, in Ahmedabad. While the trial court had held 12 people guilty, the Gujarat High Court had acquitted all in 2011. The appeal filed against the acquittal by the Gujarat government and CBI is pending before the Supreme Court.
In his 22-page plea, Khan, an alleged gangster based in Udaipur, has said that he and his family have been facing a “growing number of threats” in the past few months. While he was included in the list of witnesses by the CBI, the agency had claimed that he was untraceable as he was a wanted accused in several cases filed in Rajasthan.
Khan claimed that the “current phase of intimidation” began on June 7, when his two brothers and uncle were illegally detained for seven days by Udaipur police. He said that his mother was being threatened to ensure that he does not give a testimony against the accused policemen. His wife, Rizwana was also threatened several times, including the day she appeared in court to depose as a witness. Rizwana had told the court that while her husband was ready to depose, the police had falsely implicated him in criminal cases and were threatening him with dire consequences. She had also sought protection to be given to him, which the plea claims, was not granted.
Khan was subsequently arrested on October 12 from Delhi and taken to Udaipur. Khan has claimed that in custody too he was constantly tortured. Before his deposition on November 3, Khan alleged, he was brought to Mumbai and kept in a hotel and was then taken into an SUV car with Rehman present in it. He was told that he would be implicated in more false cases.
Khan said that he could not depose all the facts, including the fact that Gujarat officer Abhay Chudasama (discharged accused), was “using” Sohrabuddin to run a “criminal extortion enterprise”, under which 75 per cent of the profit was to go to Chudasama and remaining to Sohrabuddin.
He claimed that Sohrabuddin was killed under “political pressure” as he went against the wishes of Chudasama. He also sad that he was threatened by Gujarat police officers and was taken in illegal custody to give a false affidavit in court stating that the CBI had “coerced” him into giving false statements on these aspects.
Two chief investigating officers of the CBI, who deposed this month, also told the court that there was a “criminal-politician-police” nexus, according to evidence in the chargesheets filed.