One more prosecution witness on Monday turned hostile in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case taking the count of hostile witnesses to 45. The witness, a schoolteacher, had in 2010 assisted the CBI in translating statements given by eyewitnesses on the abduction of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausarbi and associate Tulsiram Prajapati from a luxury bus on November 23, 2005. Two of those eyewitnesses had turned hostile in December claiming that they did not see any co-passenger on the bus being abducted by policemen.
On Monday, the schoolteacher in Sangli, Maharashtra, told the court that in 2010, a CBI officer had come to his school and said he requires someone who is proficient in Gujarati and Marathi. “Since I knew the languages, I helped in translation of one statement shown to me by the officer,” the witness told the court. Special public prosecutor BP Raju asked him whose statement it was. The witness said ‘Sohrabuddin’. When asked again by the prosecutor, however, the witness did not say the name and subsequently said he did not remember whose statement it was.
The prosecution, however, did not probe into his initial answer. The prosecution declared him hostile after he denied most of his statements allegedly made before the CBI in 2010.
In 2010, the CBI claimed that a police inspector had visited the school along with a branch manager of the State Bank of India. The manager and the teacher were taken to the local police headquarters where they were shown statements of four co-passengers, all belonging to one family, recorded in Gujarati and were asked to translate them into Marathi so that the four could read the statements and sign on them. The witness had also allegedly told the CBI then that he was introduced to the four eyewitnesses, who were also present at the headquarters.
The CBI claims he was also told then about the alleged abduction and shown eight photographs including those of Sohrabuddin and his wife, which were identified by the eyewitnesses. The witness, however, denied all this.
“It is not true that I was introduced to (the two eyewitnesses) who were present there and told us that they were traveling in a bus where Sohrabuddin, his wife and associate were abducted from,” the witness said.
He also denied that the branch manager of SBI was present at the time of translation instead claiming that he was accompanied by a fellow teacher. He also denied that his statement was taken or that a panchnama was drawn up in his presence.
The witness denied contents of the panchnama he had signed relating to the photographs. On the prosecution case pertaining to abduction of Sohrabuddin and others, so far, two eyewitnesses along with the cleaner and driver of the bus have been examined. All of them have denied the abduction and have been declared hostile.
On Monday, the examination of another witness was deferred as one accused, who was directed to be present during his deposition for identification, did not appear in court. The court deferred the hearing to Monday and directed that the expense for the stay and travel of the witness be borne by the accused. The court also said that if the accused is not present on Tuesday, ‘strict view’ will be taken.