Every murder comes back
With Amit Shah's arrest, horror stories of the political and police mafia in Gujarat, are spilling over
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi
Long and relentless nights of long knives and macabre horror stories are unravelling every day in the 'vibrant Gujarat' of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. And every episode, often loaded with gory details, is pointing towards an entrenched establishment of a secret political and police mafia which had run amok violating every law of the land, and all norms of human conduct.
The dangerous phenomena points towards the complete communalisation and criminalisation of the ruling Hindutva political regime and police force within the unaccountable BJP-led state government in Gujarat, combined with a deadly nexus of corrupt criminals, politicians, murderers, gangsters, extortionists, builders, marble lobbies. The trigger-happy cops and politicians have been so cocky, that they have left a trail of evidence, and clues, across a terrain of multiple fake encounters in cold-blood.
With one dirty disclosure emerging after another, top cops turning witnesses, and new witnesses emerging from the shadows, a continuous horror spiral of murder, extortion, crime, big money, even allegations of rape, have come to stalk Narendra Modi, his government, and his party. With the Hindutva terror trail and bomb blasts across the country - killing hundreds - also unfolding new RSS links, the BJP is seriously in the dock, especially after the arrest of Amit Shah, junior home minister and right-hand honcho of Modi, who was the direct boss of Shah in the state home ministry.
Shah was arrested by the CBI on the charge of masterminding the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and subsequent murders of his wife Kauserbi in November 2005, and, later, sole eyewitness Tulsi Prajapati in December 2006. Shah has been booked under Sections 120B, 341, 342, 364, 365, 384, 302, 201 of the Indian Penal Code. The charge sheet was filed on July 23, 2010 against him and 14 others in Ahmedabad.
Shah, the CBI says, was running an extortion racket with the help of some senior police officers who formed his close coterie. The CBI has a record of phone intercepts between the cops and Shah at the time of the encounter. It is learnt that Shah acted on the behest of influential BJP leaders from Rajasthan with strong links with the marble lobby which was being pressurised by Sohrabuddin for money. Sohrabuddin, in turn, was working as a conduit for Shah in this massive inter-state extortion racket, along with state Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) chief DG Vanzara, IPS officer Ajay Chudasama, who are all accused of direct complicity in the murders.
There is enough evidence on record to suggest that there was a larger conspiracy to eliminate Sohrabuddin. It is being alleged that even the firing episode inside the office of Popular Builders in Navrangpura in Ahmedabad in November, 2004, was part of this conspiracy. Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, (including Chudasama, recently arrested), who are now in jail for the last 40 months (a total of 14 cops are in jail), were entrusted by Shah to kill Sohrabuddin. The CBI has alleged that it was Vanzara himself who had lit the pyre of Kauserbi (helped by a sub inspector and inspector), after she was murdered at the Arham farmhouse near Gandhinagar.
Latest CBI revelations are ghastly. It has been reported that even Ishrat Jahan and the three other young men, who were shot in an 'encounter' in Ahmedabad in June 2002, were confined in this farmhouse, owned by the brother of a BJP corporator. Locals say that the architecture of the farmhouse was such at that time, that even if Kauserbi and Ishrat had shouted at the top of their voices, their screams would not have been heard. This puts a completely new spin on the Ishrat Jahan killing, which a recent magisterial inquiry categorically termed as a fake encounter.
If she was already in the custody of the Gujarat ATS, then how come she and others were on a 'mission' to assassinate Narendra Modi when she was killed? Even Sohrabuddin has been accused of being a 'terrorist' on a mission to assassinate Modi. In both instances - of what seems nothing but cold-blooded murders and police set-ups - Modi's favourite cop Vanzara was involved. There are also allegations among civil society groups that both the women might have been criminally assaulted "in captivity".
Chudasama had reportedly convinced Sohrabuddin to open fire at the office of Popular Builders at Navrangpura. The purpose: to establish a criminal record of Sohrabuddin in Gujarat and extort money from Patel brothers, Raman Patel and Dashrath Patel, the promoters of Popular Builders.
The Patel brothers have alleged that they paid Ajay Patel, a close aide of Shah and the chairman of the ADC bank, Rs 70 lakh. The brothers have also accused Vanzara of threatening them with dire consequences if they do not register a complaint against Sohrabuddin and one Manilala Gosar.
The BJP has accused Congress of using the CBI for settling political scores. The evidence on record suggests otherwise. Besides, the Sohrabuddin case is being investigated by CBI under the orders of the Supreme Court.
More gory tales of a corrupt and communal political mafia virtually controlling Gujarat's highest offices directly under Narendra Modi are coming out. On August 1, 2005, Kuldeep Sharma, then Additional DGP CID (crime and railways) had written to the then chief secretary, Gujarat, Sudhir Mankad, of Shah's involvement in bailing out scamster Ketan Parekh. He had asked Mankad to duly inform the chief minister. Sharma unearthed phone records of Shah, Girish Dani, a broker and Parekh and established that Shah took a bribe of Rs 2.5 crore from Parekh in the Rs 1,000 crore plus scam. Shah, who was then the chairman of Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank, had taken the bribe to bail out the main accused, Parekh. Interestingly, BJP leader Arun Jaitley was Parekh's counsel in the case.
However, Sharma was shunted out of the CID, hounded, harassed, and mentally tortured, so much so, he did not have a posting for some time. Ironically, he is now the managing director of Gujarat Sheep and Wool Department, the first IPS officer to hold an office held by more than 30 IAS officers. He has an impeccable record of being an outstanding and honest police officer, but that has not helped him get out of the vicious 'punishment' imposed on him by the Modi-Shah regime. Moreover, his brother Pradeep Sharma, who was the municipal commissioner of Bhavnagar, also reported to be an honest officer, has been arrested for being allegedly involved in a land scam. Sources say, this is revenge against Kuldeep Sharma designed by Amit Shah. How come Modi remains out of the shadow of doubt while this dubious drama goes on right under his nose, with the chief secretary and Shah in the know, remains a mystery.
With CBI closing in on other cops to strengthen investigations, the BJP will have a difficult time explaining its high moral ground. NK Amin turning approver will fortify investigations against Shah. The trigger-happy Amin and Shah spoke on phone 32 times the week before the fake encounter. The other phone records are also being probed.
The CBI plans to question senior Gujarat cops, including Geeta Johri, OP Mathur and GC Raighar. These cops had allegedly influenced the normal course of investigation under pressure from their political bosses. Other builders, eye-witnesses, senior and junior police officers, those harassed by Modi and Shah, are also likely to come out and depose.
Indeed, even as Modi remains tight-lipped, more horror stories might spill over, in a 'totalitarian state' where victims have often chosen to be silent in the face of organised injustices. Modi, haunted by the state-sponsored carnage of 2002 under his regime, with several top cops and Sangh Parivar leaders reportedly involved at that time, presides over this Macbathean theatre of blood and gore. Indeed, backed by LK Advani, how long he will remain untouched by these investigations, is a question only he would best know. Until then, the horror story of Gujarat must wait its anti-climax.