Gujarat minister to appear before CBI Friday (Night Lead)

July 22nd, 2010 - 10:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Narendra Modi Gandhinagar, July 22 (IANS) Gujarat’s Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over the 2005 killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake shoot-out, failed to turn up before the agency Thursday but said he would do so Friday.
In statement issued Thursday evening, Shah said that he was out on personal work and by the time he came to know of the summons, he could not possibly have reached the CBI office here at 1 p.m.

“I am not on the run and I will go to the CBI to answer all its questions,” he added.

His lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani confirmed that Shah would answer the CBI summons.

According to official sources, the CBI had been looking for the minister to serve the summons seeking Shah appear at the CBI office in the old secretariat here by 1 p.m.

Finally, the summons was pasted on the wall of his Naranpura residence in Ahmedabad and on his official bungalow here. The summons was also handed over to his staff at the secretariat.

Earlier, state government spokesperson and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said that the process of law would be complied with, signalling that Shah would appear before the CBI Thursday.

Though the media converged in strength, Shah failed to turn up. After the deadline set for his appearance went by, the CBI issued a second summons to him in similar manner, asking him to do so by the same time Friday.

Attempts to contact the minister proved futile. He was neither available at his residence nor at his office and all his contact numbers failed to elicit any response.

He has not been attending the weekly cabinet meetings held Wednesdays and has also not been attending office of late.

BJP leader Vijay Rupani termed the summons to the minister as an attempt by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance central government to destablise Gujarat’s Narendra Modi government, while the Congress’ state unit said that this step was long overdue in the interests of justice.

Shah has been accused of calling up policemen involved in the killing of Sheikh, who police claimed was a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative. The CBI collected the phone records of the minister to prove his role in the execution of the staged killing, sources said.

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been accused of killing Sheikh in a staged shootout Nov 26, 2005, in Ahmedabad. His wife Kauserbi has been missing ever since.

On Jan 12 this year, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to register a case against the policemen from Gujarat and Rajasthan involved in Sheikh’s killing. A case was registered Feb 1.

An Indian Police Service officer, Abhay Chudasama, was arrested soon after the CBI took over the case. Chudasama, the 15th policeman to be arrested in the case, was posted as deputy commissioner of police in Ahmedabad at the time of his arrest and was earlier a member of the state ATS.

In his petition to the Supreme Court, Sheikh’s brother Rubabuddin Sheikh stated that the victim and his wife were picked up by an ATS team and the Rajasthan Special Task Force Nov 25, 2005, while the couple was going to Nashik from Hyderabad.

On Nov 28, 2005, the ATS and the STF claimed that Sohrabuddin was killed in a shootout near Ahmedabad.

The police claimed he had come to Ahmedabad with the intention of targeting senior political leaders and to engage in subversive activities.

Meanwhile, CBI DIG P.Kandaswamy, heading the team conducting the Supreme Court-directed investigation in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, urged the media not to indulge in speculative reporting by citing “sources close to the CBI”.

Such reportage is likely to cause misunderstandings, he said in a statement here, and asked media persons to contact the CBI’s official spokesperson in Delhi.

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