When Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday to address election rallies, Shahnawazuddin was canvassing for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a few Lok Sabha constituencies away.
A photo of Sohrabuddin's brother Shahnawazuddin at a BJP meeting in Ujjain Lok Sabha constituency. (HT photo)
Shahnawazuddin, a slim man with a receding hairline, is the brother of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh.
Second eldest among seven siblings, Sohrabuddin was killed in a staged encounter in Ahmedbad on November 26, 2005, when he was in police custody. Modi aide Amit Shah was the junior home minister of Gujarat when the incident took place.
When asked about his brother's death, Shahnawazuddin refused to pass his judgement on Modi. "How can I say anything about Modi's involvement?"
But, he added, "The one who is found guilty will be our enemy whether it is refuses Modi or anyone else. That is why we have fought such a long battle in court."
Rubabuddin Sheikh, another brother of Sohrabuddin, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking an inquiry into the encounter. The Central Bureau of Investigation had conducted a probe.
The case is now under trial in a Mumbai court.
However, the twist and turns in the case have not stopped Shahnawazuddin from campaigning for Chintamani Malviya, the BJP candidate for the Ujjain Lok Sabha seat in Madhya Pradesh.
"I'm working for the BJP, and not for any particular candidate… Even Narendra Modi and Amit Shah's association with the BJP isn't as old as mine… My father has been with the party since the Jana Sangh days. He was a BJP-supported sarpanch," Shahnawazuddin said.
The family's ancestral home in Ghatiya assembly segment in Madhya Pradesh is a BJP bastion.
Commenting on Shah, he said, "The Gujarat government itself admitted in court that the encounter was staged. He has (Shah) spent time in jail."
Shanawazuddin, who claims to be associated with the BJP for 20 years, added he would call for the expulsion of anyone involved in his brother's death — including Shah, if charges against him are proved — in the party forum.
Queried about Rubabuddin Sheikh, Shanawazuddin said, "He is my elder brother. I won't like to say anything about him."
Who was Sohrabuddin Sheikh
Sohrabuddin was a Rajasthan-based gangster who was killed in a fake encounter by policemen of Gujarat and Rajasthan on November 26, 2005. His wife was killed two days later. Five IPS officers and home ministers of Gujarat and Rajasthan are accused in the case. Amit Shah, former Gujarat home minister, is one of them. He was arrested in July 2010 and was in jail for three months before being granted bail.