DG Vanzara’s acquittal is ‘shocking’

Vanzara had obliquely confirmed that orders for fake encounters were given by the ‘Government’ and he and his colleagues had merely executed them

Photo courtesy: YouTube
Photo courtesy: YouTube

Humra Quraishi

Nothing really shocks me these days. But reading the news about Gujarat Police officer DG Vanzara being discharged by a special CBI court for want of evidence upset me a great deal, possibly because I had stumbled upon a few books which dwelt on him at some length.

Vanzara and the Rajasthan cadre police officer Dinesh MN were discharged by the court in the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, the same case in which BJP president Amit Shah was an accused, was sent to jail and was discharged by a special CBI court earlier.

Gujarat Police/CID had arrested both the police officers. But Vanzara’s much publicised resignation letter sent from jail may have prompted his mentors to ensure not only their release on bail but their subsequent reinstatement, promotion and finally discharge. In his resignation letter Vanzara, it is worth recalling, had bravely renounced all post-retirement benefits.

The chilling letter had made the telling point that for fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin, Prajapati, Sadiq Jamal and Ishrat Jahan, the CBI ought to have arrested the policy formulators also, confirming that the police officers were acting under instruction of their political bosses. But should they have followed unlawful orders? The question does not agitate anyone any longer, it would seem.

“We, being field officers have simply implemented the conscious policy of this government, which was inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from very close quarters. By this reasoning, I am of the firm opinion that the place of this government, instead of being in Gandhinagar, should either be in Taloja Central Prison at Navi Mumbai or in the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad,” Vanzara had written and it is worth recalling his words as he is given a clean chit.

For those unfamiliar with the case, DG Vanzara , a DIG-rank officer, was arrested on April 24, 2007, in connection with the alleged fake encounter of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, whom the Gujarat Police claimed had links with Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e- Taiba. Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra. Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in 2005, after which his wife also ‘disappeared’, and in all probability was killed. Prajapati, an eyewitness, was also allegedly killed by the police in 2006. The Sohrabuddin case was transferred to Mumbai in 2012 on CBI’s request for a fair trial. In 2013, the Supreme Court clubbed the “fake encounter” case of Prajapati with that of Sheikh.

I had also stumbled upon the book, I Am A Mufti & I Am Not A Terrorist - 11 Years Behind the Bars written by Mufti Abdul Qayyum Ahmed Husain Mansuri. The book provides chilling details of the torture supervised by Vanzara. Beginning 17 August, 2003, when the Mufti was “kidnapped” by Gujarat’s Crime Branch, the Mufti was administered the third degree and implicated in the Akshardham case.

In the book the Mufti writes, “I saw the red- bearded Vanzara Sahib wearing glasses sitting flanked by other officers, among them Singhal Sahab, VD Vanaar and RI Patel. …I was made to sit on the floor near their shoes. Vanzara repeated last night’s question about who had come from Hyderabad…I gave the same answer and said that Maulana Abdul Samad Sahab had come. “

“Vanzara merely asked for the club party (a group of five or six men whose job was to beat their victims to pulp and stop either when they themselves got tired or when the victims fell unconscious or dead). They arrived and caught hold of me. And though my hands were bound in iron chains, they caught my shoulders, made me stand facing the wall and began hitting me…”

Another volume I happened to read was RB Sreekumar’s Gujarat: Behind The Curtain. “On 5th September 2002, I had sent an Intel report to KR Kaushik, Commissioner of Police (Ahmedabad), informing that the recovery of indigenous firearms and arrest of Muslims in July 2002, on the eve of Rath Yatra , was stage managed by city Crime Branch DIG Vanzara. I requested Commissioner of Police (Ahmedabad) to conduct inquiries on this information. According to my sources, the recovered firearms were manufactured in a factory owned by local politicians (supporters of religious organisations) in Sabarkantha district and these were then planted on the arrested Muslims….”

The views expressed in the above opinion piece are the author’s own.

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