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For ‘saheb’,Modi’s aide Amit Shah accused of using cops to snoop on woman

Tape given to CBI by IPS officer G L Singhal,say news portals; Congress wants CBI probe,asks who’s ‘saheb’

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
November 16, 2013 7:59:34 pm

Gujarat chief minister and BJP prime minister candidate Narendra Modi’s close aide and former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah was on Friday accused of misusing his powers and police machinery for illegal surveillance of a young woman in August 2009 “at the behest of his saheb”.

An alleged taped conversation between Shah and Gujarat IPS officer G L Singhal aired by news portals Cobrapost and Gulail here,purportedly featured Shah instructing Singhal to closely monitor the movements of the woman referred to in the report as “Madhuri” (not her real name).

“Singhal has told the CBI that the surveillance was illegal and was carried out only on the oral instructions of Shah. The recordings reveal that Madhuri was tailed even as she visited shopping malls,restaurants,ice-cream parlours,gyms,cinema halls,hotels and airports,” said a statement issued by the two news portals.

“She was followed even when she visited her ailing mother in a hospital in Ahmedabad. When she boarded a flight out of Ahmedabad,orders were issued to put cops on the flight so that she was not out of sight even when she was flying. Strict orders were given to closely observe and profile those who met her. Shah was particularly interested in knowing the men she was meeting and whether she was alone or with some man when she checked into a hotel in Ahmedabad. Her phones and that of her family and friends were tapped. Every bit of information was conveyed to Shah in real time,who in turn claimed to be relaying it to his ‘Saheb’,” the statement said.

Singhal was arrested by the CBI in February this year in connection with the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter and was recently released on bail. He was then posted as SP,ATS in Gujarat police.

Shah was Minister of State for Home in Gujarat between 2003 and 2010,he was arrested in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in 2010 and is out on bail,in charge of the BJP’s poll campaign in crucial Uttar Pradesh.

The news portals claimed that Singhal — cooperating with CBI after his release — provided 267 audio recordings to the agency and this audio tape is part of this set.

The websites said “at this point of time,Gulail and Cobrapost have no means to independently verify these charges.”

Hours after the audio tape was aired,a statement from one Pranlal Soni claimed that he is a resident of Kutch in Gujarat and the woman referred to as Madhuri in the audio tapes is his daughter. He said that he only requested the Gujarat CM Narendra Modi to take care of his daughter.

In his statement,Soni said: “Our family had come from Kutch to Ahmedabad since my wife had to undergo an operation. At that time my Bangalore-based daughter had also come to Ahmedabad. All of us were busy and tense due to the illness of my wife. My daughter had stayed in a nearby hotel after coming from Bangalore. I was concerned and worried for my daughter.”

He further said,“Under the circumstances,she was required to frequently commute during odd hours due to which obviously I would be worried as a father. Under the circumstances,I orally requested Shri Narendra Modi,Gujarat CM,with whom we have long standing family relations to take care of my daughter and to ensure that she does not face any problem. he assured me as political head of the State. I am a common citizen and my family is living a simple ordinary life”

But the news portals claimed that “such was the importance attached to the surveillance operation” that many senior state police officials were instructed to personally supervise the movements of the woman. Besides Singhal,the then IG (Intelligence) A K Sharma,the then Deputy SP (CID Intelligence) DB Vaishnav and then DCP (Crime) Abhay Chudasama were some of the other senior officers roped in for the operation,said the news portals.

The tapes purportedly reveal that Shah also instructed Singhal to monitor another senior IAS officer,Pradeep Sharma,and tap his phones to find out if he was meeting with Madhuri. Sharma is advisor with the Ministry of Home Affairs at New Delhi.

Reacting to the tape,the Congress demanded that the CBI — which is probing the Ishrat Jahan encounter — should inquire into the allegations that Shah used the police machinery for illegal surveillance.

“There should be an inquiry to establish the identity of the ‘the saheb’ referred to in the tapes. The country wants to know the identity of the ‘saheb.’ This issue is also linked to the Ishrat Jahan encounter case therefore this should also be probed by the CBI,” Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal said. He said Shah himself should reveal who the saheb was.

When reached for comments,BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said: “I learn the father of the girl has circulated a note on the issue.Therefore,there is nothing for the party to respond to.”

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