THE CHIEF investigating officer of Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter case on Monday told the special court that the 22 accused currently facing trial in the case did not have a motive to kill him. The CBI officer, Amitabh Thakur, who probed and supervised the case in 2010, also named discharged accused Amit Shah, the then Gujarat Minister of State for Home; IPS officers Rajkumar Pandiyan, D G Vanzara, Dinesh M N; and police officer Abhay Chudasama, claiming that the five were “political and monetary beneficiaries” of the alleged killing, as per the chargesheet filed by him. He, however, said that there was no specific evidence to show it.
Defence lawyers representing the accused on trial cross-examined Thakur, currently posted in Odisha as Inspector General (Law and Order), for over six hours. Of the 22 accused, 21 are policemen from Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Responding to a question during cross-examination by lawyer Wahab Khan, representing Rajasthan Police’s Inspector Abdul Rehman, Thakur said as per the chargesheet filed by him, there was a dual motive for the encounter of Sohrabuddin — political and monetary.
“None of the accused present before me (police officials currently facing trial) were political or monetary beneficiaries of the alleged killing,” Thakur said. He told the court that they (21 accused policemen) had “carried out their jobs as part of a larger transaction and not as part of individual motives”. Thakur said that all 21 were on duty during the relevant period when the alleged offence took place in 2005.
“It is correct to say that all of them were supervised by superiors of their respective departments. All their superiors, either by instructing or personally remaining present, were supervising the 21 policemen. It is correct to say that all were following instructions of their superiors and were discharging their official duty,” Thakur said. While 38 people were initially named as accused in the case, 16, including Amit Shah and all senior IPS officers, were discharged.
The current 22 accused include police inspectors, assistant inspectors, sub-inspectors and constables and one private person, the owner of a farmhouse where Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi were allegedly illegally confined after being kidnapped from a bus on November 23, 2005. Sohrabuddin was shown to have been killed in an encounter in Ahmedabad on November 26, 2005. Kausarbi too was subsequently killed and her body allegedly disposed of.
On Monday, Thakur was shown the chargesheet filed by him, mentioning that there were political and monetary beneficiaries in the alleged offence. When asked to name the people, Thakur named the five discharged accused — Shah, Vanzara, Chudasama, Pandiyan and Dinesh M N. “It is not correct to say that I destroyed, tampered or suppressed any evidence from the court at any point of time. I have not pointed out specific evidence of political and monetary benefit regarding these five persons,” Thakur said. Asked if evidence was not pointed out because there was none, Thakur said, “There is no evidence”. Asked if he had been asked to falsely implicate the accused to gain political mileage, Thakur denied it.
The five named by Thakur were discharged by the trial court between 2014 and 2017. The CBI did not challenge their discharge before the Bombay High Court. In separate petitions filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother, Rubabuddin, challenging the discharge granted to Vanzara, Dinesh M N and Pandiyan, the Bombay High Court had, in September, upheld the trial court’s discharge orders.
Thakur also read out from the chargesheet stating that “post-encounter”, money was given to two persons, Shah and Vanzara. “Rs 60 lakh were extorted by DG Vanzara and Rs 70 lakh were paid to Amit Shah in three installments by Ramanbhai Patel and Dashrathbhai Patel by threatening to detain them…,” Thakur said.