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A special CBI court in Mumbai has acquitted all 22 accused in the encounter deaths of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati in 2005, citing lack of proof.

According to the special CBI court, the CBI could not establish that policemen abducted Sohrabuddin from Hyderabad, brought them to Valsad and kept them in illegal confinement. Reading its order the CBI court said, “Government machinery and prosecution put in a lot of effort, 210 witnesses were brought but satisfactory evidence didn’t come and witnesses turned hostile. No fault of the prosecutor if witnesses don’t speak.”

Sohrabuddin Sheikh, an alleged gangster, and his wife Kauser Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2005 by the Gujarat Police. His aide, Prajapati, was killed in another alleged fake encounter in 2006 in a joint operation by the Gujarat and the Rajasthan police. There are 22 accused policemen and others in the case who have been facing trial. Out of the 210 witnesses brought in by the prosecution, 92 have been declared hostile. BJP chief Amit Shah was also an accused in the case but was discharged later.

The Special CBI court has said the allegation that Tulsiram Prajapati was murdered through a conspiracy is not true. CBI could not establish that Ashish Pandya was called by Vanzara for encountering Tulsiram Prajapati, according to the court.

Special CBI judge observed in his order that all the witnesses and proofs are not satisfactory to prove conspiracy and murder in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. The court also observed that circumstantial evidence is not substantial.

Reading its order, the special CBI court said it feels sorry for the families of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati as three lives were lost. However, the “system and law demands that the court goes solely by evidence,” said Judge SJ Sharma

—India Legal Bureau

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