IN THE Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter case, a Gujarat police officer told the court Wednesday that he had not been informed about a prisoner having escaped from police custody in his jurisdiction in 2006. The officer was the then Superintendent of Police in Sabarkantha district, from where Prajapati was shown to have allegedly escaped from a train in 2006 and subsequently killed in an encounter.
While the accused policemen in the case claim that Prajapati had escaped from the train in Sabarkantha district when he was being taken to Udaipur central jail after a court hearing in Ahmedabad, the CBI claims that the escape and the encounter were both staged. The witness Wednesday told the court that he was the SP from December 2006 to September 2007. “I did not receive any message regarding escape of a prisoner from police custody. I did not get any message regarding nakabandi on December 27-28, 2006 in my jurisdiction. I did not receive or give any orders for nakabandi,” the witness told the court.
During cross-examination by defence advocates, the witness told the court that when he became a supervisory officer in the case of Prajapati’s alleged fake encounter, he did not ask any of the authorities in his jurisdiction regarding not being informed about the escape. “I did not ask either the Superintendent (railways) or the state control room or the control room of my district regarding why I was not informed about the escape,” he told the court.
The witness was also asked about the investigation in the case under investigating officer, R K Patel, who is now an accused. The witness told the court that he had given approval to Patel to arrest the accused, including policemen Vipul Agarwal (whose plea against rejection of his discharge by the trial court is pending before the High Court), Dinesh MN, then Udaipur SP and Gujarat DIG DG Vanzara (both discharged from the case). The witness told the court that he had consulted his seniors before giving the order for their arrest, but did not recollect whether the order was written or oral.
On the question of sanction under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code to prosecute these policemen, the witness said the sanction was never taken. “There was a discussion with the then ADGP (CID Crime), but it was decided that it was not needed,” the witness told the court. The then ADGP Prashant Pandey was also subsequently named as an accused in the case but discharged in 2015. Many accused in the case had cited the ground of lack of sanction, while seeking discharge in the case, which they were subsequently granted by the trial court.
The CBI claims that Patel, part of the Gujarat CID in 2007, had threatened witnesses and deliberately delayed investigation to help the accused policemen. “It was never brought to my notice by anyone that the IO, R K Patel, had threatened witnesses during the investigation,” the witness said during his deposition. He told the court that he had filed Action Taken Reports and an affidavit before the Supreme Court, which was monitoring the case, as per the information given by Patel. He said even when the draft chargesheet was brought before him, he had verified it, but did not recollect if it had been approved during his tenure or his successor’s.
The second witness was a police sub-inspector attached with Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad in 2006-07. He told the court Wednesday that he was working in the interception section of the ATS and was in charge of sorting out calls made to Jammu & Kashmir from locations including Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. When asked by special public prosecutor, B P Raju, if he had come across any letter sent to a telecom company vice-president signed by then DIG (intelligence), the witness replied in negative.
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