Three of Gujarat’s senior-most bureaucrats met the CBI’s director last month to complain that its team probing the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s by the state’s anti-terrorism squad was exceeding its brief, sources told HT.
Gujarat’s AK Joti, chief secretary, Balwant Singh, additional chief secretary (home), and SS Khandwala, the DGP, met Ashwani Kumar, the agency’s head, to try and pre-empt the team’s arresting the BJP-ruled state’s home minister, Amit Shah, the sources added.
“They complained that the team was crossing the lines of investigation mentioned in the Supreme Court’s directions,” said an official from the investigating agency in Delhi.
The Gujarat police and the bureau have arrested 14 policemen from Gujarat and Rajasthan, including four officers of the IPS cadre, for their alleged involvement in killing Sheikh on November 26, 2005 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad because it suspected he belonged to Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.
Sheikh had been on the police’s radar since 1993, when they recovered a cache of fire arms from a dry well near his house in Madhya Pradesh’s Jharania village.
Asked whether the team was now investigating Shah’s role in the Sheikh’s killing, Kumar, however, merely replied: “This case has come to us on the Supreme Court’s direction, and we will first submit our report to it after we finish the probe.”
On January 12, the Supreme Court had directed the CBI to take over the probe from the Gujarat police. P. Kandaswami, deputy inspector general of police, special crime branch, Mumbai, heads the central agency’s team.