Retired Gujarat policeman VL Solanki, who had conducted the preliminary enquiry in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case in 2006, told the court on Wednesday that he had attempted to seek permission from his seniors to interrogate Tulsiram Prajapati, but he did not get a go-ahead.
“I had made an attempt to seek permission from Inspector General of Police CID (Crime) Geeta Johri, to visit Udaipur Central prison to record the statement of Tulsiram, but could not get permission,” Solanki told the special court.
According to Solanki’s statement recorded by the CBI in 2010, he had said that he had written a letter to Johri – earlier named as accused in the case but discharged in 2015 – on December 18, 2006, requesting permission to examine Prajapati, Sohrabuddin’s associate and eyewitness to his alleged abduction in November 2005.
Prajapati was, however, killed 10 days after this letter was written, in an alleged fake encounter, the CBI claims. In his statement in 2010, Solanki had said that Johri was convinced about giving him the consent to examine Tulsiram.
Two days later she had called him again to her office and had told her that the then Additional DGP, GC Raigar, had directed her not to proceed to Udaipur and to wait until further orders.
On Wednesday, however, Solanki did not mention these details in his deposition nor was he asked by the prosecution about his entire statement.
Solanki had also mentioned in his 2010 statement that he was asked by Johri to make changes to his enquiry report, with her claiming that the then Minister of State (Home) Amit Shah (also an accused in the case who was discharged in 2014) was furious with his reports incriminating IPS officers. During the cross-examination by the defence advocates, Solanki was asked if he had made any attempts to record Tulsiram’s statement knowing well that he was regularly brought to Ahmedabad from Udaipur jail for court hearings.
Solanki, however, said that he had not sought permission and that this was a decision to be made by his seniors. Solanki said during cross-examination that he had not named any of the officers from Rajasthan police apart from Superintendent (Udaipur) Dinesh MN, in his enquiry. Dinesh MN was also discharged by the trial court last year.
Other officers of Rajasthan, including a police inspector, a sub-inspector and constables, are among the 22 currently facing trial. The defence claimed that he had implicated Gujarat policemen due to rivalry within the force, which Solanki denied. Solanki also said that during the course of his enquiry, he had tried finding out the whereabouts of Kausarbi but no evidence was found.
According to the CBI, Sohrabuddin, Kausarbi and Tulsiram were abducted by the accused policemen on the intervening night of November 22-23, 2005 from a bus while they were on their way to Sangli, Maharashtra. While Sohrabuddin as shown to have been killed in an encounter on November 26, 2005, Kausarbi too was subsequently killed, the CBI claims.
The agency further says that Tulsiram was killed a year later on December 28, 2006, as he had witnessed the abduction. Solanki said that he had recorded the statements of the driver, conductor, passengers on the bus, who had recognised the photographs of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi to be the same passengers who were abducted.
All these witnesses have denied the abduction before the trial court. Solanki also claimed that he had recorded the statements of the family members of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi. Solanki had earlier sought protection from the court citing a threat to his life but came to court on Wednesday without any escorts.