Ahmedabad: Former Gujarat Minister of State for Home Amit Shah has been arrested by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. He was taken to the CBI judge A Y Dave's house, who has remanded him to 13 days in judicial custody. Shah will spend the next two weeks in Sabarmati Jail, but can appeal for bail.
Shah, who has been charged with murder by the CBI, arrived at their office in Gandhinagar this afternoon at about 2:00 pm, to answer to the summons sent to him. He was missing since Thursday and had not appeared when summoned repeatedly by the CBI for questioning.
He had sent in his resignation letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi yesterday. The letter has been forwarded to the Governor.
Earlier in the day, Shah made a dramatic entry at a Press conference being held by the state BJP unit to declare that he is innocent, and that he will go straight to the CBI headquarters for questioning.
Surrounded by posters bearing legends proclaiming his innocence and slamming the Congress and the CBI, Shah calmly said all charges against him were "fabricated and politically-motivated" and that he would expose the people framing him.
"The chargesheet had already been made at the behest of the Congress. It is fabricated and had nothing to do with my summons. I am not afraid of anyone. We will fight the legal battle, and expose those who have tried to wrong us in court", said Shah.
Shah said he had received the CBI summons only yesterday and would respond to all charges. He requested that all his questioning before CBI be video-taped and be presented to court.
He said he would go to the CBI office after the press conference and "if they arrest me then all legal options are open to me." (Watch: Amit Shah- the insider)
The Modi protege added, " Gujarat is the only state which doesn't have acase of terrorism pending, all cases have been solved. The policeofficers, who have wrongly charged with killing Sohrabuddin, havearrested 400 people in terror-related cases. That is not highlighted.There are 1700 encounters aross India, to highlight those in Gujarat,is a political conspiracy of the Congress government."
Shah said the Congress is misusing the CBI for electoral gains in Gujarat, " For the last 20 years, Congress has not won even municipal elections in Gujarat. Gujarat's electorate has not accepted them and they've been comprehensively beaten in the polls. This is their only recourse." (Read: Gujarat minister Amit Shah resigns, Modi says Shah is not guilty)
CBI: the marble lobby nexus
Sources tell NDTV that in the 30,000 page chargesheet filed by the CBI, the agency has said Sohrabudin was killed as he was becoming a nuisance for the marble manufacturing lobby in Rajasthan. Amit Shah and 14 other senior police officers have been named in the chargesheet.
The chargesheet also states that during October and November 2004, Sohrabudin had threatened owners of R M Marbles and Sangam Textiles in an attempt to extort money.
However, the two traders who were quite well connected approached political leaders as well as police officers of Rajasthan for Sohrabuddin's elimination.
This is perhaps what makes the BJP uncomfortable - the chargesheet hints at links between Amit Shah and the marble lobby which wanted Sohrabudin eliminated.
Sources also tell NDTV that Shah, along with two other accused, tried to hamper the probe and threaten witnesses.
Shah directed Ajay Patel and Yashpal Chudasama, his close confidants and accused, to "convince, coerce, threaten and influence witnesses on his behalf to conceal the truth from CBI about the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin", they add.
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 was 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.
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?