Mumbai, December 21: A special CBI court in Mumbai on Friday said there is not enough proof to prove murder and has acquitted all 22 accused in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.
A total of 22 people, mostly junior officers of the Gujarat and Rajasthan police, were on trial for killing Sheikh, a gangster with alleged terror links, in an alleged fake encounter in November 2005. His wife Kausar Bi was also killed that month and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati shot dead in another encounter by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in December 2006.
Citing lack of adequate and cogent evidence against the accused, special?CBI judge SJ Sharma said that the evidence tendered by the central agency was not sufficient to hold any of them guilty of any of the offences they were charged with.
The prosecution has failed to put forth any “documentary and substantive evidence” to suggest or establish the alleged conspiracy, he said, according to PTI news agency.
The prosecution examined 210 witnesses, of which 92 turned hostile. At this the court said, “Government machinery and prosecution put in a lot of effort, 210 witnesses were brought but satisfactory evidence didn’t come and witnesses turned hostile. No fault of prosecutor if witnesses don’t speak,” reported ANI.
According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi , who had gone to Hyderabad to celebrate Eid, were picked up by a team of staff of Gujrat Anti Terrorist Squad and Special Task Force from Rajasthan on November 22, 2005 when they were returning on a private luxury bus.
The couple as well as Prajapati, who was also with them, were brought to Gujarat’s Valsad and then separated. While Prajapati was taken to Udaipur by Rajasthan police, Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi were taken to Ahmedabad by Gujarat police and kept at a farm house.
The agency said that on November 26, 2005, Sohrabuddin was taken to another farm house and killed there. His body was later dumped on a road and police later claimed that he was killed in an encounter at the spot. After about 3 days, Kausarbi too was killed and her body disposed of by burning it.
More than a year thereafter, on December 27, 2006, Prajapati was also shot dead by a joint team of Gujarat and Rajasthan police in an allegedly stage-managed encounter near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border.
The CBI, which took over the case in 2010, had filed a case against 38 people, including then Gujarat home minister (and now BJP president Amit Shah) and senior Gujarat and Rajasthan police officials. However, a special court in Mumbai, where the case was shifted from Gujarat following a Supreme Court order in 2013, had discharged 16 of them, including Amit Shah and senior police officers like Gujarat police chief PC Pande and anti-terror squad chief DG Vanzara.
The Bombay high court had later rejected the plea of Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin against the discharge of Vanzara and four other police officers. (Agencies)