A SENIOR police officer from Madhya Pradesh, while deposing before the sessions court in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh-Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter cases on Saturday, described Tulsiram Prajapati as a “notorious criminal, who was not afraid of the police”.
The officer was responding to a question related to Prajapati’s criminal activities during cross-examination by the defence advocates. He said he had interrogated Prajapati in connection with the crimes at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh in 2005.
The CBI has claimed that Prajapati was abducted along with Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi from a luxury bus on November 23, 2005 by policemen from Gujarat. Sohrabuddin was killed in a staged encounter on November 26, 2005 in Gujarat, subsequent to which, Kausarbi was also killed. The agency has alleged that Prajapati was killed in a fake encounter in December 2006 by the Rajasthan Police as he was a witness to Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi’s abduction.
The police had claimed that Prajapati had escaped by putting chilli powder in the eyes of his escorts while he was being taken from a court hearing in Ahmedabad to a jail in Udaipur in Rajasthan. Following this, he was allegedly killed in an encounter.
Asked about Prajapati’s background as a criminal, the witness told the court that he had found out while interrogating Prajapati in 2005 that he had committed serious crimes, including firing at a person in the presence of policemen. “It is true that Tulsiram was a dreaded criminal and was not afraid of the police,” he said.
When shown Prajapati’s historysheet from a police station in Madhya Pradesh, the witness said he had examined the same. According to the sheet, Prajapati had over 14 cases registered against him, including that of murder, between 1999 and 2004 at one police station in Ujjain.
The witness said he heard of Prajapati for the first time when a team of Rajasthan Police inquired from him about the accused in January 2005. The officer said that then Udaipur SP Dinesh MN, along with a team, had come to Ujjain to investigate Prajapati’s role in the murder of Hamid Lala in December 2004.
“I got to know about Tulsiram when the Udaipur police approached us while looking for him in 2005. A team of Udaipur police, led by SP Dinesh MN, deputy superintendent Alok Srivastava and three to four inspectors had visited Ujjain. My then superintendent, G Janardhan, had asked me to assist the officers and they had collected some documents on Prajapati,” he told the court.
He added that while he does not recollect the names of the officers, one was called Rehman. While Dinesh MN has been discharged, Inspector Abdul Rehman is currently an accused in the Prajapati ‘fake encounter’ case.
The witness said the police team was in Ujjain for three or four days and later, he was in continuous touch with Dinesh MN. He also mentioned the mobile number through which he contacted Dinesh MN.
The witness said that later in 2005, after the Rajasthan Police arrested Prajapati, he had visited Udaipur to interrogate him on his criminal activities and found out about his association with Sohrabuddin, who, he claimed, was also an accused in several cases lodged in Madhya Pradesh.
In his statement to the CBI in 2012, the witness was shown photocopies of call data records of a number, identified to be that of then Gujarat ATS chief D G Vanzara, who has been discharged in the case. The records showed that calls were made between Vanzara’s cellphone number, two landline numbers — the official and residential numbers of Dinesh MN — and the witnesses’ mobile number on November 28, 2005. The witness had then said that the calls were “made or received in connection with Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram Prajapati”. So far, 77 witnesses have been examined in the case. Deposition of witnesses will continue on Monday.