In the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case, two witnesses told the court Thursday that they had visited the house of police sub-inspector Ashish Pandya on the instructions of then DIG, Gujarat Police, D G Vanzara on November 25, 2006.
Tulsiram Prajapati was killed in an alleged fake encounter on November 28, 2006 by a team of policemen including Pandya, the CBI claims. The CBI’s case is also that Pandya was on leave during that period but was directed to return for carrying out the encounter. While Vanzara was discharged on August 1, 2017, Pandya continues to face trial on charges including murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence.
The first witness on Thursday was a retired Gujarat policeman, who in 2006 was a sub-inspector at the Rapid Response Cell in Bhuj. He told the court that on November 25, 2006, the then DIG (Border Range), Vanzara called him to his chamber. “He told me to visit Meghpar village to contact PSI Ashish Pandya and ask him to speak to him. I, along with a head constable, proceeded to the village in a private car at around 6.15 pm and reached in 20 minutes. At Pandya’s residence, we were told he was not at home. His parents and wife said they were not aware of his whereabouts and had left in the morning. We told them he should be told to contact Vanzara and returned,” the witness told the court. He said after he returned to office, he informed Vanzara about it.
The second witness, the head constable who had accompanied the first witness, similarly told the court about the visit. He said he had followed the sub-inspector’s instructions and accompanied him to Pandya’s home. Both the witnesses identified Pandya present in the courtroom. The CBI claims since Pandya was on leave and not reachable, the policemen were sent to contact him.
During their cross-examination by defence advocates, however, the two witnesses were asked whether a record of the visit was maintained. The first witness said he did not remember.
Special Judge S J Sharma asked the witness where entries of departures and arrivals by an officer are written at the police station. The witness told the court such entries are made in a diary along with the details of the visit. “Did you show the record to the CBI?” the judge asked. The witness said the CBI did not ask for any such records. The court asked him why he himself had not shown the record to the CBI. “It is true that I have not disclosed the maintenance of the weekly diary of daily work available in the office, nor was it collected and tendered,” the witness said.
He denied the suggestion the details of the visit were not entered as no such visit was made. The second witness also told the court he had not made entries of the visit in any diary.
Meanwhile, Gujarat IPS officer Vipul Aggarwal came before the court on Thursday as directed last week. Aggarwal, an accused in the case, has appealed against the rejection of his discharge plea by the trial court. The trial against him is currently stayed by the Bombay High Court.