A Special CBI court on Friday acquitted all 22 accused in the killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his associate Tulsiram Prajapati and rape-cum-murder of Kausar Bi which occurred in 2005. The court said “witnesses and proofs provided were not satisfactory”.
“Witnesses and proofs the prosecution put forward were not satisfactory to suggest or establish the alleged conspiracy and murder in the 2005 encounter killing,” said Special CBI Judge S.J. Sharma, while observing “the documentary and circumstantial evidence was not substantial”.
The Special Judge also expressed regret over the court’s inability to convict anyone in the case.
“I feel extremely sorry for the Sohrabuddin Shaikh’s family and Tulsiram Prajapati, especially his mother Narmadabai,” said Special Judge Sharma. “The evidence before me could not establish the roles of any accused persons and no material evidence to prove any of the charges against the accused.”
The much-awaited verdict, running into more than 500 pages in the case, came over 12 years after the alleged ‘fake encounters’ of Sohrabuddin and his associate Prajapati, besides the rape-and-murder of Sohrabuddin’s wife, Kausar Bi.
“The CBI prosecution tried its best to prove the case. Unfortunately even after three chargesheets, the evidences were not substantial enough to prove the allegations beyond doubt. Despite three investigations, the evidence is lacking,” the Special Judge noted.
The 22 accused, including 21 lower police personnel, comprising 14 of Gujarat, six of Rajasthan, and one of Andhra Pradesh, have been absolved of all grave charges such as murder, conspiracy, and destruction of evidence.
According to the prosecution, the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) had gunned down Sohrabuddin on November 26, 2005, in an alleged staged killing.
Prajapati was also killed in a similar fashion on December 28, 2006, while Kausar Bi, who had witnessed the abduction of her husband (Sohrabuddin) was later raped and murdered.
These killings had kicked off a major political controversy in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Gujarat, with allegations of the purported involvement of several top political bigwigs, IPS officers and other officials.
The politically-sensitive trial was shifted from Gujarat to Mumbai by the Supreme Court in September 2012.