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'Minister bribed to kill Sohrab'

india Updated: Aug 01, 2010 01:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times

A witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case has alleged that former Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria had taken R 10 crore from a marble trader to eliminate Sohrabuddin.

The statement of Mohammad Azam, who was an associate of Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati, could tighten the noose around some Rajasthan politicians who are already on the CBI radar.

Azam told the media on Saturday in Udaipur that Sudhir Joshi, former deputy superintendent of police, and inspector Bhanwar Singh Hada were involved in the Prajapati encounter case. He said he, too, could be killed anytime.

Rajasthan-based gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife, Kauser Bi, and their companion, Prajapati, were picked up by a joint team of the Gujarat and Rajasthan police in Andhra Pradesh on November 23, 2005.

Azam was part of the Sohrabuddin gang that used to extort money from businessmen in Udaipur, Rajsamand and Bhilwara. He is also an accused in the murder of Hamid Lala, an Udaipur-based gangster.

"We planned to extort from marble businessmen. When we demanded money from the owner of RK Marble, he approached Kataria. But he also agreed to give us the money," Azam said.

He said when Prajapati went to Bhilwara to receive the money, former Gujarat police officer Abhay Chudasama got him arrested. "Chudasama told him to help arrest Sohrabuddin and assured him that the police would not do anything to him.

Azam said when Sohrabuddin, his wife and Prajapati were going to Gujarat from Hyderabad, Prajapati informed Chudasama about their location. After Sohrabuddin was picked up, the police sent Prajapati to Bhilwara. He was arrested the next day and was brought to Udaipur. Later, Prajpati was shown a newspaper and was told, "Your brother Sohrabuddin has been killed in an encounter."

Azam said Prajapati heard Sudhir Joshi and Bhanwar Singh Hada remark, "Saara kaam hamne kiya aur maza Kataria le gaya (We have done everything, and the cream has been taken away by Kataria)."

A few days later, Prajapati was taken out for hearing and was killed in a fake encounter. "Even now, I am scared for my life," Azam said.