CBI takes over Prajapati fake encounter case

Ahmedabad: The CBI on Friday registered an FIR in connection with the 2006 fake encounter of Tulsiram Prajapati, a key witness to the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausarbi , thus taking over the investigation after the Supreme Court's directive.

CBI's Joint Director, Zone-II, Mumbai, P Kandaswamy, said that the FIR had been registered with the special crime branch,CBI Mumbai, against "the police officials of Gujarat and Rajasthan and others for their alleged involvement in the criminal conspiracy of wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, abduction and murder of Tulsi Prajapati and causing disappearance of evidence".

He added that the FIR was registered in pursuance of the Supreme court's order on April 8 on a writ petition filed by Narmada Bai, Prajapati's mother.

Kandaswamy said that Narmada Bai's petition would be the basis of the FIR, and the investigation would be conducted by the special investigation team (SIT) of CBI officers which had earlier probed the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case.

Narmada Bai had alleged that her son was killed in a fake encounter by the Gujarat police as he was a key eyewitness in the November 2005 killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.

Prajapati, a close aide of Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster, was killed in alleged shoot-out near Chapri village in Banaskantha district on December 28, 2006.

The Supreme Court had also criticised the tardy investigation by Gujarat police, regretting that the police took more than three-and-a-half years to file chargesheet.

The Prajapati encounter was being probed by the state CID earlier.

CID had registered FIR last year in Ambaji police station. Seven policemen including IPS officer Vipul Agarwal were arrested in the case.

Three suspended IPS officers, DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandiyan and Dinesh MN, who are accused in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, have been shown as accused in the Prajapati case too.

The apex court had taken into consideration the CBI's argument that Prajapati's case was crucial for unearthing the "larger conspiracy" in the Sohrabuddin case.

The court had observed that both oral and documentary evidence raise strong suspicion that Prajapati's encounter was fake and stage-managed, as predicted by the deceased in several communications.

Observing that there was a connection between the two encounters, apex court had said that there was substantial material on record which makes it probable that the prime motive for eliminating Prajapati was that he was a witness to abduction of Sohrabuddin and Kausar Bi.

Gujarat government, during the arguments, had strongly opposed CBI probe on the ground that Prajapati's case was in no way connected to the encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh.