Sohrabuddin killing: Final hearing begins in Special CBI court

The final arguments in the politically-sensitive case of the twin encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, and the brutal rape-cum-murder of Kausar Bi will be heard in a Spl CBI Court

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
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NH Web Desk

The final arguments in the politically-sensitive case of the twin encounters of Sohrabuddin Anwar Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, and the brutal rape-cum-murder of Kausar Bi, started on Monday, December 3, in a Special CBI Court.

Special Judge SJ Sharma had fixed the December 3 date after completing the recording of statements of accused under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) Section 313, and their lawyers failed to produce any defence witnesses in the case.

The verdict in the high-profile case, which involved 22 other accused is expected by December-end.

The alleged "fake encounters" of gangsters Sohrabuddin and Prajapati, and the disappearance of the former's wife, Kausar Bi, took place in 2005-2006, creating a major political storm in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat.

The prosecution's case was that Sohrabuddin was linked with the terror outfit Lashkar-e-Tayiba and was allegedly conspiring to assassinate "an important political leader", presumably, the then state Chief Minister, and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A total of 37 people were accused in the case, of which 16 were discharged in 2014, including 15 by the Special CBI Court Mumbai, and one by Bombay High Court.

Among those discharged were the then Gujarat Home Minister and now BJP President Amit Shah, the then Rajasthan Home Minister GC Kataria, the 'encounter specialist' and former Deputy Inspector-General from Gujarat DG Vanzara, who at the relevant time headed the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) in that state, and then IPS officer NK Amin and 12 other police officials.

Following a Central Bureau of Investigation plea, the Supreme Court ordered the case to be shifted out of Gujarat to Mumbai in September 2012, and it also clubbed the Sohrabuddin and Prajapati cases.

During the trial in the past over a decade a total 210 prosecution witnesses were examined, of which 92 turned hostile.

On November 3, 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were travelling from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad. At 1.30 am the Gujarat ATS squad stopped the bus at Sangli, Maharashtra, and escorted them off the bus. Three days later, Sohrabuddin was shot dead in what was called an encounter

The case shot to prominence for the alleged involvement of several high-profile politicians and IPS officers, making it one of the most politically-sensitive cases.

On November 3, 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were travelling from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad. At 1.30 am the Gujarat ATS squad stopped the bus at Sangli, Maharashtra, and escorted them off the bus. Three days later, Sohrabuddin was shot dead in what was called an encounter by the then Gujarat DIG DG Vanzara.

A few weeks after the encounter, his brother Rababuddin wrote to the then Chief Justice of India that he was not convinced about how his brother died and was concerned about his sister-in-law Kausar Bi, who had also gone missing around the same time. After the Supreme Court got the letter, it ordered the Gujarat Police to conduct an investigation into Sohrabuddin’s killing and Kausar Bi’s disappearance.

It was initially reported that Kausar Bi had disappeared and later in 2007 the Gujarat government revealed to the Supreme Court that she was held in custody in two different farm houses and then strangled to death and cremated on November 28, 2005. She was also allegedly raped by a sub-inspector.

Later, Sohrabuddin's associate, Prajapati -- who was the prime witness to the alleged "fake encounters" -- was arrested and then gunned down in an encounter in December 2006 near Udaipur in Rajasthan, after the police claimed he attempted to escape from their custody.

Among other things, the two were said to be allegedly linked in various other major crimes, including the killing of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya in March 2003.

It must also be remembered that Judge BH Loya, who died under mysterious circumstances on December 1, 2014, 6.15 am, was the second judge who was supposed to hear the Sohrabbudin case. The case was first assigned to Judge JT Utpat, who was transferred before he was to appear in court. He had reprimanded Amit Shah for not being personally present in the court.

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