The CBI on Friday argued against the discharge of Dalpat Singh Rathod, a constable of Rajasthan police, and N K Amin, a Gujarat police officer, in the alleged fake encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati. According to the CBI, in the case of Rathod, he could not have been discharging official duty while participating in an encounter and, therefore, the agency did not require prior sanction for prosecuting him. The lack of sanction for prosecution was one of the grounds why the special CBI court discharged Rathod.
Rathod was accused of participating in the killing of Prajapati, a key witness to the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin. Prajapati was allegedly killed by police officers at Chapri village in the Banaskantha district of Gujarat in December 2006.
Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster who, the Gujarat police claimed, had “links with the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba,” and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by Gujarat ATS from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra and killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005.
According to the chargesheet, Prajapati was taken from Udaipur to Ahmedabad in connection with a criminal case on December 26, 2006. After the court proceedings the next day, the police left for Ahmedabad escorting Prajapti. He was escorted by four constables, one of them being Rathod.
According to the statement of Rathod and the other accused, Prajapati escaped from the train after throwing chilli powder on two constables while he was being taken to a toilet. Prajapati was found dead on December 28, 2006, by a special team formed to search for him.
The CBI had claimed that Prajapati never travelled in the train back from Ahmedabad and the doctor who examined the constables after the incident found no chilli powder in their eyes. “The story of Rathod being part of a team which was escorting Prajapati is wrong as Prajapati was not on the train, so there is no question of him escaping. While they booked a ticket in the name of Prajapati, he never travelled in the train. This was done to support their story that Prajapati escaped from the train by throwing chilli powder in the eyes of two of the constables,” additional solicitor-general Anil Singh said on Friday.
One of the reasons for Rathod’s discharge was that he prima facie did not seem to be connected with the encounter. The other three constables who were also part of the escort team have not been discharged. “In a fake encounter case, he (Rathod) cannot be said to be on official duty,” Singh said in court.
Rathod’s lawyer Niranjan Mundargi said: “There is nothing to show that Rathod was part of a conspiracy hatched to carry out the encounter. In fact, when Prajapati escaped from the toilet, Rathod was not even with him so there is no question of chilli powder being found on him. The incident (encounter) took place 26 hours after this escape….”
The court also heard the application against the discharge of N K Amin. The CBI relied on the statement of a driver, who claimed that Amin was present on the spot when the body of Sohrabuddin’s wife Kausar Bi was burnt. “He was not part of the ATS at the time and had no reason to remain present at the spot,” Singh said.
Arguing for Amin, senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani said there was no corroboration of his alleged presence at the spot. The court will continue hearing the cases on Monday. The court was hearing petitions filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin challenging the discharge of former deputy inspector-general of Gujarat D G Vanzara, Rajasthan IPS officer Dinesh M N, and Gujarat IPS officer Rajkumar Pandiyan, along with two applications filed by the CBI challenging the discharge of Rathod and Amin.