Sohrabuddin Case: Witness Says CBI Threatened Him

Sohrabuddin Case: Witness Says CBI Threatened Him
In a significant development, a key witness in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter today told a court here that he was "threatened" by CBI into making false statements in the case.

In an affidavit filed in the special CBI court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate A Y Dave, Azam Khan retracted from the statement that the Central agency has included in the charge sheet filed in the 2005 case.

Khan said he did not know anything about the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and the subsequent killing of Tulsiram Prajapati, an associate of the alleged gangster and one of the key witnesses in the case.

The witness said he had made the earlier statement after being "threatened" by CBI to implicate him in the Hamid Lala murder case by reopening it in the Rajasthan High Court.

CBI said that if he did not give statements according to them in the Sohrabuddin matter, they would make sure he spends his entire life in jail, he said in the affidavit.

Khan alleged that CBI threatened him, saying they would get the probe in Popular Builder firing case, in which he was an accused, transferred to the agency from the Supreme Court, and secure his conviction.

Khan said he was frightened by CBI, handling the case since January on the apex court's direction, so he went to Mumbai and recorded his statement before a magistrate.

Khan was reportedly shot last week in his home town Udaipur where he works as a marble trader. Udaipur Police, however, suspect that Khan had staged the attack on himself to grab attention.

He further said in the affidavit that Abhay Chudasama, an IPS officer-accused in the encounter case, never told him he had saved Sohrabuddin in the Haren Pandya murder episode. He alleged CBI had added this portion in his statement on its own at the behest of Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhvadia.

Khan claimed that CBI, in July, asked him to give interviews to television channels that money was paid for the staged killing of Sohrabuddin in November 2005.

The CBI, in its charge sheet, said Khan was a member of Sohrabuddin's gang, which used to extort money from the marble traders and businessmen in Rajasthan. He was also involved in the killing of a gang leader, Hamid Lala, who used to collect protection money from marble traders in Rajasthan.

Khan claimed he came to know, that Sohrabuddin was running an extortion racket in collusion with Gujarat Police, only from media reports.

However, Khan's statement, included in the CBI charge sheet, stated that he knew Sohrabuddin operated an extortion racket with help from Chudasama, who was DCP, Ahmedabad Crime Branch at the time of his arrest in April.

The statement said Chudasama, the first accused to be arrested by CBI, used to take 75 per cent cut in the extortion money, while Sohrabuddin got 25 per cent.
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