New audio tapes have emerged that may call into question the Gujarat government’s explanation for the surveillance of a young woman and a senior IAS officer ordered by Narendra Modi’s junior home minister Amit Shah in 2009.
The tapes, released by lawyer Mukul Sinha, appear to show that Shah ordered IPS officer GL Singhal to keep the woman’s family under surveillance during visits they exchanged with IAS officer Pradeep Sharma, and even when the family was on a leisure trip to Bor Lake, on the outskirts of Bhavnagar, without her.
The recordings also suggest that the Gujarat police tracked her location in Bangalore.
The state government has maintained that the surveillance was ordered following a personal request from the woman’s father who was concerned about the risk posed to her by Sharma.
According to Sinha, the picture now emerging contradicts this claim.
“The recorded conversation of 18th August, 2009 and 21, 22 and 23rd August, 2009, totally demolishes the story of BJP that Modi had provided the police coverage to Madhuri (name changed) to “protect” her from the harassment by Pradeep Sharma,” Sinha said on his website, truthofgujarat.com, where the audio recordings and transcripts were released.
HT couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the tapes.
Sharma is embroiled in a legal battle with the Gujarat government over corruption-related charges.
He claims the charges were trumped up.
Asked about the new tapes, Gujarat government spokesperson and finance minister Nitin Patel told HT, “He was not aware so can’t comment on the matter.”
In one of the new tapes, Shah is purportedly heard directing Singhal to make “arrangements” and “increase the number of persons” on surveillance duty during a visit by the young woman’s family to Sharma’s residence in Bhavnagar. Sharma was municipal commissioner at the time.
The recorded conversations show that on 18th August, 2009, Pradeep Sharma met Madhuri’s ailing mother in Ahmedabad. He went to her house in his official car and spent fifteen minutes with her.
On 22nd August, Madhuri’s father, his wife, their two sons, son’s wife and a baby left for Bhavnagar in two cars. They reached Bhavnagar in the evening and went straight to Sharma’s official residence and stayed with him till late evening. Thereafter the family went to the Circuit House where they stayed for the night. They started for Ahmedabad the next morning.
In another conversation that day, Singhal is heard informing Shah about the woman’s location in Banglore, saying” that lady has reached there and her location is coming as North Bangalore Sir at quarter to eight now”.
The following day, Singhal updates Shah on the details of a family visit to “an old palace of a king near Bor lake” and their return journey, including stopping for petrol and their likely route.
“In doing this meticulous job of tracking Pradeep Sharma and the… (woman’s family), Amit Shah has in fact established the close relation between Pradeep Sharma and the… family destroying the BJP’s allegation that (the woman) was facing any threat from Pradeep Sharma,” wrote Sinha on his website.