- The witness, Azam Khan, said Sohrabuddin got contract
- His aide Tulsiram Prajapati claimed he carried out murder
- Azam Khan alleged DG Vanzara's hand in Haren Pandya's murder
A key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case has claimed in a Mumbai court that DG Vanzara, the ex-police officer of Gujarat, had given out a contract to kill Haren Pandya - the state's former home minister. The witness, Azam Khan, said Sohrabuddin claimed to have got the contract, and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati claimed he had carried out the murder.
Azam Khan said he had mentioned Mr Vanzara's involvement in Haren Pandya's murder to a CBI officer, but the officer had refused to include it in his testimony.
Mr Vanzara, who spent nine years in prison after being accused of extra-judicial killings as a top cop of the state, was discharged in the case involving the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin in August last year.
Haren Pandya -- Gujarat's home minister -- was murdered in Ahmedabad in 2003. The Central Bureau of Investigation, which probed the case, claimed he was killed as revenge for the 2002 riots. In 2011, the Gujarat High Court acquitted all 12 accused for lack of evidence and said the agency had "botched up" the investigation.
Sohrabuddin, a petty criminal, died in an alleged fake encounter in November 2005. The Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad had claimed that he was a terrorist plotting to kill Narendra Modi, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat at the time.
Azam Khan said he had met Sohrabuddin in 2002 and became friends with him and his wife Kausar Bi.
"Sohrabuddin told me he had got money from DG Vanzara to kill Gujarat's home minister Haren Pandya and he completed the job. I then told him that what he did was wrong and he had killed a good person," news agency Press Trust of India quoted the witness as saying.
Later, he met Tulsiram Prajapati, an aide of Sohrabuddin, in Udaipur jail. "Prajapati told me that the Gujarat police killed Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi," the witness said, deposing before special CBI Judge S J Sharma.
Tulsiram Prajapati -- who was accompanying Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife when they were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad -- died in December 2006. The CBI said he was killed by the Gujarat police in a fake encounter.
Sixteen of the 38 people accused of involvement in the two alleged fake encounter cases have been discharged by the trial court. In 2012, the Supreme Court had ordered the transfer of the Sohrabuddin case from Gujarat to Maharashtra after the CBI's request for a fair trial.
Among those discharged in the Sohrabuddin case are Gujarat police officer Abhay Chudasama, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, former Gujarat police chief PC Pande and senior police officer Geeta Johri. BJP president Amit Shah, who was also named in the case, was discharged. The court found him innocent and said his name was included in the inquiry for political reasons.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)