Owners of Popular Builders Raman and Dashrath Patel have filed a petition in Gujarat high court, demanding a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe into the firing on them. This could spell trouble for all the accused especially suspended IPS officers DG Vanzara and Abhay Chudasama and former minister of state for home Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter cases though.
During Tuesday’s hearing, CBI expressed willingness to investigate the case while the state government sought time to reply. Justice Harsha Devani has adjourned the matter for further hearing till December 26.
Meanwhile, the December 2004 firing at the office of Popular Builders has a unique significance in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. It is alleged that Prajapati and Sylvester Daniel had fired four rounds at the office of the builders on Sohrabuddin’s orders.
During the investigation and according to the charge sheet filed in the court, the investigating agency had also stated that the firing at the Popular Builders’ office was stage managed by some of the accused in the Sohrabuddin encounter case like DG Vanzara, Abhay Chudasama and Amit Shah. The CBI alleged that the three were running an extortion racket through Sheikh.
On December 8, 2004, two gunmen had fired at the office of the Patels in which no one was injured. Navrangpura police had registered a case, which was shifted to the Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch, where suspended IPS officer DG Vanzara was in charge. Later, he was transferred to the Gujarat ATS (Anti-Terrorist Squad) as deputy inspector general of police and subsequently, investigation of the Popular Builders firing case, too, was shifted to the ATS.
The police had named the Patel brothers accused along with some others for destroying evidence in the case.
The Patel brothers, meanwhile, faced a separate criminal prosecution following a complaint lodged by the police at a criminal court in Ahmedabad. The charge sheet was submitted against the duo long ago.
Now, the Patels have petitioned the HC demanding a CBI probe into the case or a report to be submitted by the agency that the firing on them was stage managed by the accused police officers and others using the members of Sohrabuddin’s gang to extort money from the petitioners.