Staged killing accused police garlanded; Andhra denies involvement

By IANS, New Delhi/Hyderabad/Ahmedabad : Even as the Supreme Court is to give verdict Thursday on the killing of Kausar Bi, wife of encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh, the three arrested police officers were Tuesday garlanded by Bajrang Dal activists in Ahmedabad as Andhra Pradesh denied involvement of its state police.

The three police officers – D.G. Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandiyan and Dineshkumar M.N. – arrested last week for the Nov 26, 2005, staged killing of Sheikh were remanded to police custody till May 5 by a metropolitan magistrate in Ahmedabad.

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As they were being brought to the court, the Bajrang Dal activists gathered there shouted slogans in their support. Vanzara, who was brought to the court amid heavy security, was garlanded by the activists.

With several police officers from Andhra Pradesh under the scanner for allegedly providing support, the state investigation officer G.B. Pandheria said they were probing the case and “we can’t say anything about the investigation. But no one is above the law”.

However, Hyderabad city Police Commissioner Balvinder Singh seemed to be speaking in a different tone as he stopped short of acknowledging that Hyderabad police provided assistance to the Gujarat police.

“It’s normal to provide logistical support to other state police,” he said.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy rubbished reports of possible involvement of policemen from his state in the murders. “To the best of my knowledge, it (state’s police involvement) is not correct,” Reddy said.

Investigation reports submitted by Gujarat government in the Supreme Court said seven police officers from Hyderabad had not only provided logistical support to a team of Gujarat police but also tipped them about the movement of the couple here and put Andhra Pradesh number plates on two vehicles from Gujarat.

Gujarat government has already admitted in the apex court that Sheikh was killed in a staged shootout near Ahmedabad on Nov 25, 2005. His wife was killed two days later and her body was burnt.

In the Ahmedabad court, public prosecutor G.S. Saini sought 10 days additional remand for the three officers on the ground that the investigation team need to probe more killing Sheikh and subsequent murder of Kausar Bi.

The government counsel told the court that the investigating agency needed to know more about Kausar Bi`s death and how she was murdered, how her body or remains were disposed of and also the motive of the officers behind the killings.

The public prosecutor also told the court that the Gujarat CID (crime), which is probing the case, needed to know who were the officers who executed Sheikh and his wife and additional remand was required for this. During the entire proceedings in the packed court, Vanzara sat calmly.