THE SPECIAL court hearing the Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter cases in Mumbai on Monday questioned several claims made by the CBI and pointed out the lacunae in the evidence it has presented, while hearing final arguments by the prosecution.
In less than two hours, Special Public Prosecutor B P Raju concluded his submissions against the 22 accused facing trial, summarising the evidence given by 210 prosecution witnesses, 92 of which have turned hostile.
Raju claimed that both the encounters — Sohrabuddin’s and Tulsiram’s — were fake. He further claimed that for a year till his death, Tulsiram kept expressing his apprehensions about being killed since he had witnessed the abduction of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi.
Special Judge S J Sharma, however, asked the CBI if it had evidence to show that the third person traveling with the couple was Tulsiram. “Why was this fact about Tulsiram being in the bus not disclosed till CBI took charge of the case in 2010? Have you investigated on the lines that Tulsiram had stayed with the couple at the house of their associate Kalimuddin in Hyderabad in November 2005? His photo was not shown to the witnesses for identification,” the judge asked the prosecutor. The judge also said that while a letter was written to the Supreme Court by Rubabuddin seeking to inquire into his brother Sohrabuddin’s death, it was mentioned nowhere till 2010 that the third person in the bus was Tulsiram.
During his deposition in September, Sohrabuddin’s other brother, Nayamuddin, had claimed that Tulsiram was planted in the abduction story by the CBI.
The court also questioned the CBI on its claim that Tulsiram had communicated with Gujarat police officer, discharged accused D G Vanzara, giving Sohrabuddin’s whereabouts to him. “Have you collected evidence about how this information was given to Vanzara?” the court asked. The judge said that the CBI’s case “was demolished” by a prosecution witness, Chandan Jha, the owner of the house at Bhilwara in Rajasthan, from where Tulsiram was shown to be arrested on November 29, 2006. Jha had said that Tulsiram had not gone anywhere for over 15 days before his arrest, contradicting the CBI case about his presence in the bus.
Raju countered that another witness, Sohrabuddin’s associate Prakash Bandivdekar, had claimed that Tulsiram was in the bus. The court, however, pointed out Bandivdekar was in Kolhapur jail when his statement was recorded and the CBI officer had met him thrice earlier.
Raju also submitted that the accused had not been able to show that Sohrabuddin was a member of terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba and his association with Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan as was claimed by the accused at the time of his encounter.
It has been claimed that Sohrabuddin was gunned down in cross-firing when he had come to Gujarat to kill a “big political leader”. Raju also claimed that a ticket showing that Sohrabuddin had traveled from Surat to Ahmedabad on the day of his encounter was shown to have been seized from him. The court, however, questioned the CBI on why it had not found out who, among the initial 38 accused, had planted the ticket.
On Tulsiram’s alleged escape from police custody, a day before his alleged encounter, Raju submitted that it was “strange and impossible” Tulsiram had managed to access a firearm which he used to fire at the escort team and flee. The court, however, asked the CBI who had planted the weapon and where it was procured from.