In a stunning revelation, a witness in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh’s fake encounter case has told a trial court in Mumbai that former Gujarat IPS officer DG Vanzara had ordered the cold-blooded murder of former Gujarat Home Minister Haren Pandya. Pandya, who served as the state home minister under Narendra Modi as chief minister, was killed in 2003.
The witness, who is believed to be one Azam Khan, said that he had met Shaikh in 2002 and became good friends with him and his wife Kausar Bi and his associate Tulsi Prajapati. Shaikh reportedly told him that the order to kill Pandya had come from ‘above.’
“During that time, Sohrabuddin told me he had got money from D G 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,” the witness told the court, according to news agency PTI.
The witness went on to add that the Rajasthan Police had arrested him in 2005 and kept him in Udaipur jail, where he met Prajapati. Deposing before special CBI Judge SJ Sharma, the witness said, “Prajapati told me that the Gujarat police killed Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi.”
The witness said that he had told Shaikh that they had killed an innocent person. To which, according to him, Shaikh said that Vanzara had hired him to kill Pandya. Vanzara was recently discharged in the said encounter case. Pandya had deposed against Modi in the 2002 Gujarat’s anti-Muslim genocide.
The latest revelation has become a dominating theme of social media conversations with many users speculating on whose behest Vanzara may have ordered the killing of Pandya. Lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted, “This is huge! Witness in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case tells court that Sohrabuddin was given the contract to kill Modi’s Minister Haren Pandya (who deposed against Modi on Guj Carnage) by Shah’s Hitman Vanzara! This confirms widespread public suspicion.”
Sanjay Nirupam of the Congress wrote, “Vanjara ordered Sohrabuddin to kill Haren Pandya. Shah ordered Vanjara to kill Sohrabuddin. Question is who ordered Shah to kill Sohrabuddin ? A suspense thriller!”
Congress MLA Sudhakar K wrote, “Haren Pandya knew too much about Modi’s involvement in 2002 riots and how Modi gave free hand to rioters. It was dangerous for Modi. So Modi gave this contract to his right hand man Amit Shah who in turn gave this contract to his trusted aide IPS officer DG Vanzara.”
Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were allegedly abducted by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad on their way to Sangli in Maharashtra. Sheikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005, after which his wife disappeared and was believed to have been done to death.
Prajapati, an aide of the gangster and an eyewitness to the encounter, was allegedly killed by police at Chapri village in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district in December 2006.
The Sohrabuddin killing case was transferred to Mumbai in September 2012 on the request of CBI for a fair trial. In 2013, the Supreme Court had clubbed the alleged fake encounter case of Prajapati with that of Sheikh.