Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gujarat State Govt admits fake encounter in which Muslims were killed

The following news confirms the analysis by many that alot of the encounters against Muslims are staged.

Will State Govt’s admission about fake encounter bring murder charges on cops?

By Vikram Rautela

Ahmedabad, March 23: With the State government on Friday admitting before the Supreme Court that the encounter in which Sohrabuddin Sheikh had been killed in November 2005 was faked, police officers involved in the case may face murder charges, say legal experts. The experts’ comment assumes significance more because the scope may also cover senior police officers like D G Vanzara and Rajkumar Pandian.

During the hearing of a petition filed by Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin, Gujarat government counsel K T S Tulsi submitted before the Supreme Court that the encounter in which Sheikh had been killed was fake. And after Sheikh’s killing, his wife Kausar Bibi also went missing and her whereabouts are yet to be known. The Gujarat ATS, which had run the operation with STF of Rajasthan Police, had claimed that Sheikh was an LeT operative and he was killed in encounter while trying to flee on a motorcycle near Vishala crossing in Ahmedabad. The police had also claimed that they had foiled a plan to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi. At that time, Vanzara was heading the Gujarat ATS, while Pandian was SP (Operations), ATS.

In the wake of the government admission before the SC that it was a fake encocunter, legal experts say the admission must be based on certain evidence and that is why the law should take its course. They opine that those, including Vanzara and Pandian, could be be arrested under Section 302 of IPC on charges of murdering a man.

Says senior advocate S V Raju: “Law does not allow any one take a person’s life and if the State government has categorically admitted before the Apex Court that Shorabuddin was killed in a fake encounter, then it discloses a clear case of murder as the government statement must have been based on sufficient evidence and inquiry reports in the case. So the police personnel, including the IPS officers, involved in the case are liable to be arrested on charges of murder.’’
Another senior lawyer, J M Panchal, also says that the accused can face murder charges. “If it is a fake encounter, as has been reportedly admitted before the SC, then the act will be considered as a pre-planned delibrate murder and Section 302 of the IPC will be applicable in case of the accused.’’ Besides murder charges, the accused may face other charges, too. “Charges of abduction, wrongful confinement, causing grievous hurt and torture can be applied,’’ says Raju, adding that there are several instances, where police personnel have been arrested on charges of a murder.

According to legal experts, the accused can be arrested under sections 302, 365, 368, 330,331,201,120 (B) of IPC. They also also claim that if custodial torture is proved, the accused can also be hauled up for contempt of court, on the basis of a SC judgment in the case of D K Basu (Para 35).

In his petition to the SC, Rubabuddin had said that his brother and sister-in-law were picked up by the Gujrat ATS and Rajasthan STF, while they were travelling from Hyderabad to Sangli. Rubabuddin had further alleged that while Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter, Kausarbi has been missing since then.

Responding to Rubabuddin’s petition, the SC had directed the Centre to submit a report in the case. Rubabudin’s petition was also forwarded to the Gujarat government, which later asked CID (Crime) to look into the matter. A team of CID, headed by IGP Geetha Johri, went to Hyderabad, Sangli, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to investigate the case. The reports suggested evidence of a fake encounter. Johri, according to sources, has already submitted three interim reports to the SC, indicating that serious offences should be registered against Vanzara, Pandian and police personnel from Rajasthan and Andra Pradesh, involved in the case.
Investigations also revealed that besides Soharbuddin and his wife, one Tulsiram Gangaram Prajapati, was the third person the ATS has picked up a couple of days before Sheikh’s encounter. Prajapati was killed in another police encounter in Banaskatha.

Principal Secretary (Home), Balwant Singh, when contacted, said: “Detailed investigation in the case has begun and actions will be taken against people found guilty.”


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