One arrested police officer confesses involvement in Gujrat Killing


New Delhi : The Gujarat government Monday informed the Supreme Court that one of the three arrested senior police officers of the state has confessed his role in the staged killing of Ujjain resident Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife.

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In its latest status report on the ongoing investigation by the state police, submitted to the apex court, Inspector General of Gujarat Police Geeta Johri said three more police officials have been arrested for their roles in the November 2005 killings, a state government counsel told reporters.

In her report, she said one of the police officers, whose statement was recorded in the presence of a magistrate, has confessed to his role in the killing of Sohrabuddin.

Apprising the court of the arrest of seven policemen and about some imminent arrest, Johri said, "Scientific evidence was awaited in this case. Investigation conducted was consistent with the guilt of the accused arrested so far." She told the court more arrests could be made.

In the report submitted to the court in a sealed cover, the police officer also said that the police had obtained the telephonic conversations records of the accused persons before and after the killings.

"The statements given by various witnesses in the case completely corroborated with these records," the report said.

Detailing the ongoing police investigation, also into the roles of some Andhra Pradesh policemen, Johri told the apex court in her report that the government would file a separate report on the probe related to the role of Andhra Pradesh police in the crime.

The state government's report also enclosed the interim reports of Johri, who was in charge of the investigation initially and had blew the lid off the staged killings in her interim enquiry reports last year.

It was on her report that the state police arrested three senior IPS officers – Deputy Inspector General D. G. Vanzara and Rajkumar Pandiyan of Gujarat police besides Superintendent of Police M.N. Dinesh of Alwar in Rajasthan for their roles in the staged killings.

Sidelined for some month after preliminary probe into the matter, Johri was again brought back to lead the probe on May 3, within hours after the apex court observed that the case of extra-judicial killings by the Gujarat policemen was a fit one to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

About her removal from the investigation, the government told the court that "it was the normal practice in Gujarat that a preliminary enquiry would be conducted by one police officer and further investigation by another police officer to maintain objectivity."

She was, however, brought back following observations by the apex court, the report said adding that some more time was needed to complete the investigation.

The Gujarat government submitted the report to the court Monday, a day before the Supreme Court is to take up the final call on the issue of transferring the probe into the extra-judicial killings to the CBI.

Ujjain resident Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsiram Prajapati were killed in a staged encounter after they were kidnapped by a Gujarat police team on Nov 26, 2005, from a bus on its way to Sangli in Maharashtra from Hyderabad.

Soon after the abduction, Gujarat police Deputy Inspector General D.G. Vanzara had announced Sheikh's killing in a police shootout and dubbed him a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other prominent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.

The Gujarat government on May 2, in response to a habeas corpus petition by slain man's brother Rubabuddin Sheikh, seeking direction to the state government to produce his sister-in-law Kausar Bi, missing since her abduction, admitted before the Supreme Court that she too had been killed by the state police after Sheikh's killing.

With this admission, Rubabuddin too had pleaded to the court to transfer the probe into the matter to the CBI. The Union Government too had sought the transfer of the probe to the CBI.

Meanwhile, Sheikh, filed an additional affidavit enclosing fresh materials for a CBI probe into the matter.

In his affidavit, he said "the sequence of events presented a sordid and nerve chilling story where murder, rape and extortion was perpetrated by a large number of high ranking police officers who would go to the extent of eliminating citizens for financial gain."

"The enormity of the conspiracy at the behest of such high-ranking police officials was unparalleled and could not be over emphasized," he said.

He also blamed the Director General of Gujarat Police P.C. Pande for the delay in the investigation.

Though the apex court Registry issued notice on Jan 21, 2006, no action was taken till June 7, he said, adding that despite submitting a preliminary report to the apex court, the state police chief dithered for nine long months on even registering a case related to the staged killings by his policemen and officer.