Bhanwari Devi case: Did Rajasthan ATS upset the apple cart for CBI?
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Bhanwari Devi case: Did Rajasthan ATS upset the apple cart for CBI?

Observers say arrest of Indra Bishnoi by ATS and its timing have political motives.

jaipur Updated: Jun 04, 2017 20:31 IST
Rakesh Goswami
Rakesh Goswami
Hindustan Times
Bhanwari Devi,Sohanlal Bishnoi,Indra Bishnoi
Rajasthan ATS arrested Indra Vishnoi from Dewas in Madhya Pradesh. (HT Photo)

The arrest of Indra Bishnoi, a key suspect in the 2011 Bhanwari Devi murder case, by Rajasthan anti-terror squad (ATS) has set tongues wagging in state political circles.

Political observers say the arrest by ATS and its timing have political motives.

“The ATS was not investigating the case and Indra Bishnoi was not wanted by it. I wonder why the ATS spent six months monitoring her in Madhya Pradesh and gathering intelligence to arrest her when they already have an Anandpal Singh missing from their net?” a political commentator, who did not wish to be named, said.

The ATS arrested Bishnoi from the Nemawar in Madhya Pradesh on Friday, six months after the squad’s Udaipur unit got information about her presence in the region. ATS officials told media persons on Saturday that two separate operations were launched to track Bishnoi.

“She was wanted by the CBI and the best thing for ATS to have done was to pass on the information to the agency instead of working on the information themselves,” the commentator said.

The central bureau of investigation (CBI) took over investigation of the case in October 2011, a month after 37-year-old auxillary nurse midwife Bhanwari Devi went missing.

The agency filed the first charge sheet against the three accused – Sohanlal Bishnoi, Shahabuddin and Kumbharam alias Baldev – on December 2, 2011.

The investigation agency arrested Mahipal Maderna, who was water resources minister in the then Ashok Gehlot government, and Malkhan Singh, a Congress legislator from Luni, before it filed the second charge sheet in the case on February 29, 2012.

37-year-old auxillary nurse midwife Bhanwari Devi had gone missing in 2011. (HT File Photo)

The bureau charged the duo of colluding to get the ANM kidnapped and murdered as she was blackmailing them over illicit relations with both of them.

The CBI filed the third charge sheet on April 21, 2012, and the case went to trial in May. Indra Bishnoi was declared absconder and the CBI announced a cash reward of ₹ 5 lakh on any information leading to her arrest.

People who have been part of the prosecution team, said the agency was least interested in arresting her. “They feared she may upset their theory and take it into another direction by naming new people and throwing new facts so they wanted the trial to finish without her,” some of them said.

The CBI, said a former prosecutor, was facing a challenge after more than 40 witnesses, including some on whose confessional statements the case was built, turned hostile.

Political observers say the state government had a political motive to get Bishnoi arrested as the Jats, an influential community, were upset for Maderna being behind the bars since his arrest on December 2, 2011.

“Whatever Indra tells CBI will further entangle the Bishnoi family facing trial in the case and Maderna may get benefit of doubt,” he said.

First Published: Jun 04, 2017 20:31 IST