This Article is From Jul 24, 2010

Gujarat minister Amit Shah resigns, Modi says Shah is not guilty

Ahmedabad: Gujarat Minister of State for Home and Chief Minister Narendra Modi's closest aide, Amit Shah, has resigned. The decision was announced by Modi early on Saturday morning.

Addressing the mediapersons in New Delhi, the Gujarat Chief Minister said Shah has "sent his resignation to me".

"Today, when I landed at the Delhi airport in the morning, I got a callthat Amit Shah has sent in his resignation papers to my bungalow. Iwill go back and complete all the necessary formalities. I accept hisresignation but all the Constitutional formalities will be completedwhen I go back home," Modi said. (Shah quit out of respect for law: BJP)

At the same time, Modi blasted the Central government saying that allegations against Shah are politically motivated.

"The Congress government that is ruling the country has failed in curtailing price rise, they went to Pakistan and came back with nothing, their statements in the house instigate the Maoists making them kill innocent people, Kashmir is burning again. All in all, the government has failed on every single stand it took. It is a Government of failures," Modi said.

Modi maintained that Shah is not guilty, and all allegations against him are false.

"Amit Shah is completely innocent and all evidences against him are just fabricated. Everything is politically motivated. The whole country knows that during the 2007 elections, Congress had projected Sohrabuddin as a national hero and tried to cash in on him. However, they had to suffer a huge loss. This is a conspiracy against the Gujarat government. It is an attempt to disturb the developmental trajectory Gujarat is following for long. They are just trying to avenge the 2007 election loss," Modi said. (Allegations against Amit Shah politically motivated: Modi)

"BJP and all the forces that are fighting against terrorism, leave it to the common man to judge. Amit bhai will follow all the legal procedures in utmost honesty and fightback in the same way," Modi added.

The Congress has meanwhile, reacted to Modi's allegations saying Shah should have quit long back.(Why is Amit Shah still hiding asks Congress)

Marble lobby involved, says CBI

Shah has been charged with murder in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and has been denied anticipatory bail by an Ahmedabad court.

Shah still remains underground - he has not been seen at his office for most of this week and has, in the last 48 hours, skipped two appointments with the CBI for interrogation.

There are questions against Shah to get Sohrabuddin killed because he was becoming a nuisance to marble manufacturers in Rajasthan.

The chargesheeet filed by the CBI against Gujarat's Deputy Home Minister - a copy of which is with NDTV - seems to indicate this.

The CBI has claimed in its chargesheet that some prominent marble manufacturers had approached politicians and policemen to eliminate Sohrabudin because he was threatening them and was trying to extort large sums of money.

The chargesheet also says that in October and November 2004, Sohrabuddin had threatened marble traders who were well connected to politicians and cops in Rajasthan. It goes on to name the owners of RM Marbles and Sangam Textile as the traders with powerful connections.

The chargesheet states that the marble lobby was getting restive and got Sohrabudin killed through their political connections. It goes on to say that Amit Shah, as Gujarat's Deputy Home Minister, had a role to play.

The CBI now wants to find out what the link was between Shah and prominent marble manufactures.

Shah has been charged with murder in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and has been denied anticipatory bail by an Ahmedabad court. (Watch: Amit Shah - The insider | Read: Who is Amit Shah?)

The CBI chargesheet has recorded chats that show DG Vanzara, who was the Deputy Inspector General (DIG), was in touch with Shah. The chargesheet also mentions recordings according to which Shah gave instructions to kill Kauser Bi.

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Will Amit Shah surface now?

Shah has been contemplating approaching the High Court for anticipatory bail after the same was rejected by a lower court, his lawyer said on Friday.

CBI Judge G K Upadhaya rejected Shah's application on technical grounds, as his application did not mention sections of Indian Penal Code under which he was accused.

Shah's lawyer, Mitesh Amin, said they were deliberating on legal options and contemplating approaching the higher court after the rejection of anticipatory bail plea.

"We need to first have a look at the chargesheet and the charges against the minister before taking any further decision," Amin said.

Political vendetta, says BJP

Meanwhile, the issue has turned into a major political battle with the BJP's senior leaders in Delhi saying that the CBI is being misused by the Congress against its political opponents. As a sign of protest, they decided not to attend a lunch hosted by the Prime Minister. (Watch: Govt shamelessly misusing CBI, says Jaitley | Congress vs BJP on PM's lunch | Read: BJP skips PM's lunch, Congress is furious)

In a 30,000-page chargesheet, the CBI has accused Shah along with 14 senior police officers for killing Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife, Kauser Bi, in November 2005. Some of those police officers are already in jail.

On Friday morning, Shah skipped a 1 pm appointment with the CBI. His lawyer said the minister wanted a copy of the questions that the CBI wanted him to answer. Because the CBI refused, Shah decided on a no-show.

The minister skipped a Cabinet meeting earlier this week, a sign, sources said, that he knew he was likely to be arrested. The CBI has questioned his staff on Friday about where he might be. On Thursday, after the CBI issued him two summons within a space of a few hours, the minister faxed a statement to the press stressing that the CBI had been unfair to him by giving him no notice to meet its investigating officials. He also says the CBI has no evidence against him.

"He (Shah) wants to come, he wants to cooperate in the investigations, but since we have less time, we request them to give us a questionnaire, so that accordingly we can give the right answers," said Shah's lawyer.

In November 2005, Sohrabuddin was shot dead on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. His wife, Kauser Bi, was also killed. At the time, Gujarat's Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) said that Sohrabuddin was a terrorist who planned to assassinate Modi. In 2007, the Gujarat state government admitted in court that Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi had been wrongly killed. Some of the state's senior-most policemen are in jail, charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, and kidnapping. (Read: Who is Sohrabuddin Sheikh)

Phone records allegedly show that those same policemen were in close and constant touch with Shah once they picked up Sohrabuddin and his wife, Kauser Bi, from a bus headed from Hyderabad to Sangli.  The policemen who framed and shot Sohrabudin allegedly include DG Vanzara, who was the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of the Gujarat police, and Abhay Chudasama, the head of Ahmedabad's crime branch.

Gujarat and Rajasthan police officers pulled Sohrabuddin and Kauser Bi along with another man, Tulsiram Prajapati, off a bus in 2005, and moved them to a farmhouse near Ahmedabad. Sohrabuddin was taken away a couple of days later and killed. Then Kauser Bi was murdered. Inspector NV Chauhan, who was reportedly assigned to guard Kauser Bi at the farmhouse, says Vanzara received a call from Shah. According to Chavan, the Home Minister said that Kauser Bi had to be eliminated in such a way that her body could not be recovered.

The minister stayed in close touch with the same policemen in 2006 as Prajapati was killed in another fake encounter. An investigating officer handling the Sohrabuddin case has told the CBI that he was told not to record Prajapati's statement on the orders of Shah. Prajapati was killed a fortnight later in Gujarat.

The Supreme Court asked the CBI to take over the Sohrabuddin case in January this year. Till then, the investigation was being handled by the Gujarat Police's Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The court found the CID's work unsatisfactory and told the CBI to present a report by the end of this month.

What the CBI wants to ask Amit Shah

The CBI has refused to give Amit Shah's lawyer the questions it wants to put to the minister.  However, CBI sources reveal this interrogation will revolve around these questions:

  • Do you know Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed by the Gujarat Police?
  • Was the killing sanctioned by you?
  • If not, when and how did you learn about his death?
  • How was Sohrabuddin's wife, Kausar, killed?
  • Did you know Kausar was in police custody when Sohrabuddin was killed?
  • Who killed Kausar and how?