The hunt for Amit Shah, Gujarat’s junior home minister, has begun. A CBI team went searching for Shah at his official residence in the ministerial enclave, his office at the state secretariat and his private residence in Ahmedabad.
But the minister was nowhere to be found and no one was willing to disclose his whereabouts.
“Shah faces imminent arrest as he’s now an absconder,” a top CBI official said.
It started after the close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi failed to appear before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday in the 2005 fake encounter case, involving Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauserbi.
The CBI chargesheeted Shah for criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, murder, extortion, destroying of evidence, tampering with evidence and threatening and influencing witnesses. And a CBI special court refused his anticipatory bail. Along with Shah and two associates, four senior police officers and eight middle-ranking officers have also been chargesheeted by the CBI. (HT Exclusive: SIT's proof against Shah)
Shah, who had said on Thursday that he would present himself before the CBI team on Friday, chose to send his lawyer instead. When the agency insisted the minister appear before them personally, Shah applied for anticipatory bail, which was rejected.
Gujarat government spokesman Jaynarayan Vyas refused to comment on whether the minister had resigned in the wake of the chargesheet against him.
HT has learnt CBI officials involved in the probe had sought permission for the minister’s arrest as far back as the second week of April, but their bosses told them to gather more evidence before proceeding against Shah.
“We have now got sound evidence, which suggests his complicity in the murder of Sohrabuddin and brutal killing of his wife Kauserbi,” a senior CBI official said.
Two associates of Shah have admitted to the CBI that they were involved in bribing and threatening some witnesses at the minister’s behest. (Read: Amit & coterie ran extortion racket)
Besides, evidence gathered by the CBI points to Shah’s involvement in the fake encounter – right from hatching the murder plan – and pressuring police officials during the investigation, destroying evidence and threatening
and influencing witnesses, the CBI official said.