The battle lines have been drawn, says defiant Vanzara


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Ahmedabad : In a clear indication that he was not going to take the charges against him lying down, arrested Gujarat police officer D.G. Vanzara maintained Saturday that the accusations of staged killings against him were concocted.

Talking informally to reporters while he was sitting in the court along with two other arrested police officers, Rajkumar Pandian and Dineshkumar M.N., waiting for the proceedings to begin, a composed Vanzara said, "The battle lines have been drawn."

A metropolitan court extended by three days the police remand of the three senior officers facing charges of killing Sohrabuddin Sheikh in November 2005 after branding him as a terrorist and also his wife. The court will hear a petition for their narco-analysis and brain-mapping tests next week.

While refusing to elaborate on his statement, Vanzara, who looked at ease in court, gave adequate hints that he was prepared mentally to face the long legal haul and was unaffected by the chain of events leading to his and his colleagues' arrests.

Smiling, and occasionally indulging in merry banter, Vanzara stoutly maintained that Sheikh was indeed a terrorist. "I have even stated this in the court of law."

The three police officers have been in police custody for the past 10 days. They face the charge of killing Sheikh from Madhya Pradesh in a fake shootout on the outskirts of this city claiming he was a terrorist working for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and was planning to target Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Vanzara's assertion that Sheikh is indeed a terrorist flies in the face of the Gujarat government's submission to the Supreme Court last week that Sheikh was killed in an encounter and his wife was subsequently killed and her body burnt.

On his days in police lock-up, Vanzara said: "I am spending my time doing yoga. I also listen to and read the preachings of Asaram Bapu as I am his follower. There is no television to watch or newspaper to read."

"I know what you have been writing about me. But I have nothing against you all as I know it is nothing personal," he added as the Criminal Investigation Department personnel took him away to seek further police remand.

The CID is also investigating the circumstances leading to the death of Kausar Bi, Sheikh's wife, and Tulsiram Prajapati, an eyewitness to the killing.

With time being at a premium for the CID in view of the Supreme Court's directive to submit a final status report on the case within two weeks, the investigating agency is keen to carry out narco-analysis tests as soon as possible.