Sohrabuddin case: Amit Shah arrested, sent to judicial custody

Last Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010 - 00:11

Gandhinagar: After eluding the CBI for four
days, former Gujarat minister Amit Shah, a close aide of
Narendra Modi, on Sunday surrendered before the probe agency which
arrested him in Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case after
he made a dramatic appearance at a BJP media briefing.

46-year-old Shah, who resigned from the Modi government
yesterday following a charge sheet being filed against him,
turned up at the BJP office in Ahmedabad, where he denied all
the charges against him. He then drove to the office of the
CBI which arrested him and produced him before Additional
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate A Y Dave here.

Surprisingly, the CBI did not press for custody of Shah,
who has been charged with murder, extortion, kidnapping and
five other sections under IPC for the killing of Sohrabuddin
and his wife Kausar Bi in 2005. He was remanded by the
magistrate in judicial custody for 13 days till August 7.

"I have full faith in the judiciary and I am sure the
allegations against me will be cleared by the courts," Shah
said after he appeared during a press conference called by
state BJP president R C Faldu at the BJP headquarters in
Ahmedabad, ending the suspense of his whereabouts since
Thursday when he was first summoned by the CBI.

Shah claimed that he was innocent and said that
charges against him were "fabricated, politically motivated
and were on the instruction of Congress government" and
demanded that his entire questioning by the CBI should be
video-graphed.

Later Shah went to the CBI office in Gandhinagar. Waving
to the mediapersons after alighting from his car, he found
that officers of the probe agency were waiting for him.

"The CBI officials told Shah that they will take him
straight to the court to which he agreed," BJP leader Vijay
Rupani, who accompanied Shah, said.

The BJP slammed Shah`s arrest accusing the central
government of misusing the CBI, an allegation dismissed by the
Congress which said that the probe agency would not risk the
wrath of the Supreme Court by levelling false charges.

"Do you think CBI is full of a bunch of fools who will
risk their entire career by making false allegations,
non-existing allegations which are going to be examined by the
Supreme Court," Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

On Shah`s claims that he was being arrested under false
allegations by the CBI, he accused the BJP leader of trying to
"fool the country" by making such remarks.

"Charge sheet is not made overnight. Charge sheet is a
collection of evidence.... Here over five-six months of
investigation the CBI has got enough evidence against Amit
Shah," Singhvi said.

The party said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi
should also be prepared to face some "uncomfortable" questions
in the probe.

Backing Shah, the BJP accused the CBI of working in a
partisan manner by targeting Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, where
it has governments, and ignoring the Andhra Pradesh angle in
the Sohrabuddin case as the Congress is in power in that
state.

"Sohrabuddin Sheikh was a terrorist from whose premises
in Indore nearly 300 AK-47s were recovered. He used to operate
an inter-state gang.

"Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are under CBI radar but the
Andhra Pradesh angle (in the fake encounter case) is not being
investigated at all as Congress is in power there," BJP chief
spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The CBI, which took over the investigation of fake
encounter case in January this year on the orders of Supreme
Court, had sent two summons to Shah on Thursday, but he did
not appear before the agency and went underground.

The CBI on Friday filed a chargesheet in the special
court charging him with section 302 (murder), 120 B
(conspiracy), 341 (wrongful restraint), 342 (wrongful
confinement, 364, 365 and 368 (all related to kidnapping),
384 (extortion) and 201 (disappearance of evidence) of IPC,
according to a CBI spokesman said in Delhi.

Before his arrest, Shah said,"The incident happened five
years back. But the CBI acted in such haste that they did not
even give me enough time to reply. I will respond to all the
charges and will expose the people who are behind bringing of
these allegations.

"This is a ploy of the Congress government to carry
out our political encounter as the party has not come to power
in Gujarat for the last 20 years. I have full faith in the
judiciary, people of Gujarat and BJP workers. I will fight the
legal battle in the court of law and the party will fight the
political battle at political level," the BJP leader said.

Shah said, "Congress leaders are saying that Sohrabuddin
was a petty criminal. It was Sohrabuddin from whose house more
than 40 AK-47, 100 hand grenades and ammunition worth Rs 1
lakh were recovered. He was wanted by the police of five
states and he had 40 cases against him.

"When the army of Pakistan will come then only they might
think that they are criminals. Nation is not safe
in the hands of Congress," Shah said.

Shah, who is elected from Sarkhej constituency and
had been minister of state for home in the Modi government
since 2002, also said that the Chief Minister should not be
dragged into the issue.

"There is no need to drag Chief Minister Narendra Modi
into this issue," he said reply to a reporter`s query.

Modi, who was in New Delhi yesterday to attend a
meeting of the National Development Council (NDC), had said
that Shah was "completely innocent" and that the charges
against him were "politically motivated".

Teams of CBI had been searching for Shah and other
accused at various locations after the filing of the
charge sheet against them. Shah`s anticipatory bail plea was
rejected by the Special CBI Court on Friday.

The charge sheet has named Shah as a key accused along
with IPS officers D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, M N Dinesh
and Abhay Chudasama. In all, 15 accused have been named.

According to the charge sheet, it was Shah who had
entrusted the task of eliminating Sheikh, an alleged gangster,
to Vanzara, Pandia and Chudasama. Sheikh was killed in an
encounter near here on November 26, 2005.

Earlier, state BJP president R C Faldu alleged that
Shah, who was "totally innocent", had been "falsely
implicated" in the case for which CBI has been "misused".

"We know that Congress governments have had the habit
of disturbing non-Congress governments in states. We feel that
the Congress is afraid of the support JD(U), BJP and its
allies have in poll-bound Bihar," he said.

In a reply to a question on where he was during the
last couple of days, Shah shot back, "I was at the residence
of one of the friends like you journalists.

"As far as the question of issuing summons is
concerned, it was done as if I am an absconder and a known
criminal. I was not given time as on July 22, the first
summons was issued at 11 AM asking me to appear before them
(CBI) at 1 PM," Shah said.

"On the same day another summons was issued asking me
to come before 1 PM of July 22 giving me no time to have legal
consultations about the five-year-old case," Shah said.

He termed the CBI`s move to summon him as a drama
saying the agency had already prepared 30,000 page charge
sheet in the case.

"How can they file the charge sheet showing me as an
accused in just couple of hours after expiry of deadline for
my appearance before them?" he asked.

Shah rose from being a district level worker to one of
the most powerful men in BJP due to his proximity to Modi.

A science graduate, Shah was first entrusted with the
responsibility of BJP`s Yuva Morcha by Modi some 20 years ago.

Shah replaced Haren Pandya as minister of state for
home in 2002.

PTI



First Published: Monday, July 26, 2010 - 00:11

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