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Gujarat minister headed 'crime syndicate', apex court told

Wednesday September 28, 2011 08:10:53 AM, IANS

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday told the Supreme Court that former Gujarat minister Amit Shah was the "commander of crime syndicate with some officials of state police as its foot soldiers" who would eliminate crucial witnesses in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai was told that at every stage of the investigation, either the witness was made to retract his statement or was eliminated.

Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha referred to the instance of prosecution witness Azam Khan retracting his statement and the alleged staged shootout killing of witness Tulsiram Prajapati to buttress his argument.

Shah has been named as an accused in the case.

On Oct 29, 2010, the Gujarat High Court granted bail to Shah but the very next day, the CBI moved the apex court seeking the cancellation of bail.

The apex court, while keeping the CBI plea pending, directed Shah to stay away from Gujarat and the situation continues till date.

Khan was abducted and forced to retract and even before the investigating officer could have been granted permission to travel to Rajasthan to record Prajapati's statement, he was killed in a staged gunfight, Tankha told the apex court.

Khan retracted his statement a few days before the high court heard Shah's plea for bail that was rejected by a trial court in Ahmedabad, he said.

"It is a telling commentary on how the entire machinery of the state is geared to erase evidence," Tankha told the court.

The court was told that Shah made nearly 25 phone calls to Gujarat Police officer N.K. Amin during the days when Sohrabuddin's wife Kausarbi was allegedly killed.

Senior counsel Ram Jethmalani earlier objected to Tankha describing as "fabricated" a document that was relied upon by Shah to contend that the investigating agency was pressing for his arrest so that some people could be brought as witnesses against him.

Sheikh was killed in a staged shootout by Gujarat Police Nov 26, 2005.




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