By Rana Ayyub- Tehelka.com
SINCE THE sensational arrest of
So, yes, it would be difficult to deny the ambiguous roles the CBI has played recently in cases involving Quattrocchi, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav. The Congress certainly has a lot to gain from trumping Narendra Modi, and through him, the BJP. And it is true some aspects of the evidence against Shah would probably look thin in court. But unfortunately for the party, the scales weigh heavily in favour of Shah’s complicity and direct involvement in a vast spectrum of crimes. TEHELKA has been tracking the Sohrabuddin ‘encounter’ story since 2007 and was the first to publish the call records that proved to be Shah’s undoing (Gujarat Home Minister called cops arrested for killing Tulsi Prajapati, 3 July). Now, it has fresh information that proves Shah will find it extremely difficult to subvert the wheels of justice that have begun to grind around him.
“There is no doubt this arrest is a big challenge, but we will fight it legally. How can you call this evidence?” says a senior BJP leader, requesting anonymity. “What value do the stings have? Will they stand in court?”
To counter these questions, the story so far in a nutshell. Sohrabuddin, an extortionist, was killed by
Soon after the murders, the cover-ups began. The case was handed over to the CID, which functions directly under the Home Ministry — Shah and Modi — and was batted to several police officers, who either diluted the evidence under political pressure or were transferred if they failed to comply. And so the case straggled on. Finally, dismayed by the obfuscations, Sohrabbudin’s brother Rubabuddin petitioned the Supreme Court, which handed the case over to the CBI in January 2010, with a directive to uncover the “possibility of a larger conspiracy”.
Since then, the skeletons have been tumbling out. On 29 April, the CBI arrested Ajay Chudasama, DCP (Crime) and Joint Commissioner of Police, who has 197 complaints of extortion and harassment against him. Chudasama features in another TEHELKA story, in which a Muslim boy who admits to being part of a terror conspiracy speaks of the officer forcing him to implicate innocents (8 August 2009). Alarmed by Chudasama’s arrest, the state CID arrested several other officers to prevent the CBI from taking them into custody. But the truth had begun to spill.
So no matter how much the BJP tries to blunt the issue, Shah and Modi face a minefield of evidence and uncomfortable questions. And there are many new developments they need to fear. First of all, there is a battery of disgruntled and complicit police officers now willing to turn approver or prosecution witness. IGP Geeta Johri is one of them. Handed the case twice, she is an example of the complex ways in which Modi and Shah seem to have weighed in on officers handling the case. Johri was forced to go along when ex-CID chief OP Mathur allegedly tampered with Shah’s call records. She filed a secret note to the Supreme Court complaining of “political pressure.”
Despite this, Johri changed course and was later chastised by the Supreme Court for “not conducting the investigation in a fair manner”. Now the CBI is set to make her a witness when she returns from
Another officer thwarted in the line of duty was DGP CID Rajnish Rai, who arrested killer cops DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandyan and
Damagingly, a CID note to the CBI talks of “uncalled for restrictions on the movement of officers” and of how “progress in the investigations was communicated to the accused persons allowing them the opportunity to influence witnesses”. It also speaks of how Rai’s arrests were frowned upon by the “political dispensation”. As a “consequence”, it says, the government issued an order dated 27 March 2007 stating that Raigar would henceforth oversee the case.