An encounter that gave sleepless nights to ministers and cops for 12 years
Dara Singh encounter case: A local court in Rajasthan on Tuesday acquitted all the 14 accused policemen.jaipur Updated: Mar 13, 2018 23:02 IST
It was a late October morning in 2006. A body lay draped in a blanket on a narrow road shooting off the Ajmer road in Jaipur. The police vehicles and policemen, uniformed and otherwise, surrounded the spot.
Dara Singh, a known bootlegger of Shekhawati area, had been killed. The police claimed he was killed in an encounter. His family and others, mostly Jats, the community to which he belonged, alleged that it was staged.
The encounter became one of the most high-profile cases in the state, sending a former minister and 15 policemen, including two Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, behind bars. In the course of trial, one person died and two, including an IPS officer and the former minister, were acquitted, On Tuesday, a trial court acquitted the 14 remaining accused policemen in the case.
AK Jain, the counsel for one of the police officers, explained the police version of the events. The Special Crime and Economic Offences (SCEO) wing of Rajasthan police, now known as the Special Operations Group (SOG), got a tip-off that Dara Singh was in Jaipur and would be going to Ajmer on the morning of October 23, he said.
“He was intercepted on Ajmer road. Singh and his aide Manoj Swami fired at the police. The police followed them and Singh was shot dead. Swami managed to escape,” said Jain.
Protests followed the encounter and Jat bodies alleged that he was killed in cold blood on the orders of Rajendra Singh Rathore, a minister in the Vasundhara raje-led government in the state. They alleged that Rathore favoured another bootlegger, who was of the same community as Rathore. Dara Singh’s enmity with both, the other bootlegger and Rathore, led to his planned elimination by the police at the behest of the minister, they alleged.
The long-standing hostility between Jats and Rajputs also played into the narrative.
Dara Singh’s wife petitioned the Supreme Court which ordered an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the case.
On April 23, 2010 the CBI began investigation in the case and within a year arrested three police officials and named 14 others including Rathore as suspects. In June 2011, the chargesheet was filed and one by one all the police officers were arrested. The arrested officers included AK Jain, the then additional director general (ADG) of police and A Ponnuchamy, the then superintendent of police, SCEO.
Rathore was arrested in 2012 but was discharged by the district court within two months. Rathore, after the acquittal of the policemen on Tuesday, said that the case was a result of political vendetta and conspiracy, and the court’s ruling that the encounter was genuine would raise the confidence of the police.
The trial in the 12-year case that lasted over six years that was decided on Tuesday, gave sleepless nights to ministers and cops alike.