New Delhi :
A Mumbai court on Friday will pronounce its judgment in the politically sensitive Sohrabuddin Shaikh-Tulsiram Prajapati alleged fake encounter case, 13 years after the incidents took place. The encounter of the Sohrabuddin Shaikh, an alleged gangster, and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati had attracted much attention as BJP president Amit Shah, who was the who was the Home Minister in Gujarat at the time of the incidents, was one of the accused in the case. Shah, however, was discharged in 2014, months after the Narendra Modi-led government came in power at Centre. Apart from Shah, the then Rajasthan home minister Gulabchand Kataria, former Gujarat police chief PC Pande and former senior Gujarat police officer D G Vanzara and 12 others were also discharged by the court for lack of evidence.
Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed in 2005 in an encounter in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state. Gujarat police claimed that he was associated with terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba and planning to assassinate Modi.
According to the CBI, Sohrabuddin was arrested by Gujarat police from a bus when he was on his way to Sangli in Maharashtra along with his wife Kausar Bi and aide Tulsiram Prajapati. Three days later, the CBI said, he was killed in an alleged fake encounter at the outskirts of Ahmedabad. His wife Kausar Bi was taken to Banaskantha district where she was killed after being raped and her body was disposed of.
A year later, Tulsiram Prajapati was also killed by Gujarat and Rajasthan police near Gujarat border on December 26, 2006, the CBI said. The police had claimed that Prajapati was trying to escape the police custody when he was being taken to Gujarat from Rajasthan after a court hearing.
In 2010, the CBI had taken over the case which was being probed by the Gujarat CID. In 2013, the Supreme Court had shifted the trial to Mumbai from Gujarat on CBI’s request to ensure free and fair trial. As many as 92 of the total 210 witnesses examined by the prosecution turned hostile. However, two prosecution witnesses on Wednesday filed a plea of re-examination in the court, even as the trial drew to as close.
One of the witnesses, Azam Khan, alleged that he and his wife were threatened to depose as told by accused Abdul Rehman, a former police inspector who had allegedly fired on Shaikh. Another witness, a petrol pump owner, claimed that his statement recorded before the magistrate was not furnished before the court. Their pleas will also be decided today.