A special CBI court of Mumbai has acquitted 22 persons accused for the alleged fake encounter killing of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and his associate Tulsi Prajapati. Conveying sympathy to the bereaved family, Special CBI Judge S J Sharma ruled the prosecution has failed to put forth any “documentary and substantive evidence” to suggest or establish the alleged conspiracy. Of the accused, 21 are junior-level police officials from Gujarat and Rajasthan. The other was the owner of a farm house in Gujarat where Shaikh and Kausar Bi were illegally detained before they were allegedly killed. The CBI said Sheikh, Kausar Bi and Prajapati were abducted by the Gujarat police from a bus when they were going to Sangli in Maharashtra from Hyderabad on the night of November 22-23, 2005.Shaikh was killed in an alleged fake encounter on November 26, 2005 near Ahmedabad post Gujarat riots of 2002, while his wife was killed three days later and her body disposed of, the CBI had said.It said that a year later, on December 27, 2006, Prajapati was also shot dead by the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in an alleged fake encounter near Chapri on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. Of the 210 witnesses examined, at least 92 had turned hostile during trial.
Special Judge S J Sharma has said the CBI failed to prove its case; the circumstantial evidence was not substantial to suggest or establish the alleged conspiracy. The case pertains to the alleged abduction and killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, a wanted criminal, his wife Kauserbi and aide Tulsiram Prajapati on November 23, 2005. According to the accused, Shaikh was a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative, and was on his way to Gujarat to “assassinate a big political leader”.Court did not consider witnesses who went hostile: Defence lawyer said.All 22 accused have been acquitted in the case, no charge could be proved against anyone. The Court has accepted that Sohrabuddin died of bullet injuries but it could not be proved that the accused were allegedly involved. In the matter of the Kausar Bi case, the court mentioned that the prosecutor is not responsible for witnesses turning hostile, says defence lawyer after CBI court’s verdict.