The Kataria Factor

The submission of the supplementary chargesheet in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case by CBI on 07.05.2013 in the Court of the Additional Chief Metrolpolitan Magistrate, Mumbai had ruffled many political feathers in Gujarat, Rajasthan and New Delhi. The investigation of the Sohrabuddin case which was transferred to the CBI on 1st February 2010 has already seen the arrests of Shri Amit Shah, the Minister of State for Home of Gujarat, several top IPS officers of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The new supplementary chargesheet has now charged the former Home Minister of Rajasthan, Shri Gulab Chand Kataria as well as Shri Vimal Patni, the Director of R.K. Marbles, Udaipur.

Long before the CBI took over the investigation of the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin in 2010, the Gujarat Police under the supervision of the IGP Mrs. Geeta Johri had arrested Mr Dinesh MN, an IPS officer of the Rajasthan Cadre, and 12 other policemen attached to Gujarat Cadre. On 9.5.2007, Mrs Johri had formed an investigation team, in which one Shri Ranchod Bhai Haidiya, Inspector of Gujarat Police was a team member who had filed the first chargesheet on 16.07.2007 as the investigating officer.

On 8.10.2010, the same former investigation officer from Gujarat cadre, Mr Haidiya recorded statement before the CBI under Section 161 and he was named as the prosecution witness number 32. When he was asked about the motive of the killing of Sohrabuddin, this is what he had said – “I state that Shri Sohrabuddin was giving trouble to the Marble traders of the Rajasthan state and they wanted to eliminate him. They approached senior officers in Rajasthan and Gujarat and finally he was killed and shown as encountered..

The FIR that was lodged by the Rajasthan Police Inspector Abdul Rehman, a close confidante of SP Udaipur, Mr Dinesh MN, IPS on 26.11.2005, alleges that Sohrabuddin was an absconder and accused in the Hamid Lala murder case. Hamid Lala who was an underworld don giving protection to the Marble mine owners in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan was murdered on 31.12.2004, allegedly by Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati. In the month of November 2006, one Shri Bhawar Singh Hada (PW22), PI was the SHO of Hathipol Police Station and the investigating officer of the Hamid Lala murder case. Despite being the investigating officer, he was not even informed that Shri Dinesh MN along with Abdul Rehman had gone to Ahmedabad allegedly for arresting Sohrabuddin, the day on which Sohrabuddin was killed. The secrecy of the operation can therefore be envisaged.

In the supplementary chargesheet filed on 7th May 2013 by CBI, Shri Bhawar Singh Hada had stated that while interrogating Tulsiram Prajapati in police custody, Tulsiram had stated that they had carried out recce of M/s RK Marbles and other big marble establishments. In the judicial custody, Tulsiram Prajapati had divulged that he and Sohrabuddin had allegedly demanded Rs 25 crores from RK Marbles, but the owners had killed Sohrabuddin with the help of Gulab Chand Kataria, the Home Minister of Rajasthan and Shri Amit Shah. The CBI has further placed on record the application dated 15.12.2005 of Shri Vimal Patni, the Director of M/s RK Marbles to Rajeev Dasot, the then IGP of Udaipur range asking for additional security protection to himself and his family.

The same Mr. Rajeev Dasot in his statement before the DYSP Shri GB Padheria on 20.06.2007 had said that on 24.11.2005, in the morning, Shri Dinesh MN SP Udaipur had telephonically sought his verbal permission to go to Ahmedabad with a team of officers, purportedly in connection with the murder case of Hamid Lala which was registered in Hathipole Police Station, allegedly to arrest Sohrabuddin and further that he had granted verbal permission to Shri Dinesh MN.

The same Mr Rajeev Dasot, under the direction of Mr. Gill the then DGP of Rajasthan and the Home Minister Shri Kataria, had rushed to Ahmedabad on 24th April 2007, the day on which Shri Dinesh MN was arrested, to find out the reasons for the arrest. In his statement before the CBI, on 19.05.2010, he admits that DGP Rajasthan had instructed him to reach Ahmedabad after the arrest of Shri Dinesh MN and he was also told that the Home Minister Shri Gulab Chand Kataria, the Secretary Home and the DGP were all going to go to Ahmedabad the next day. He has also stated that Kataria, Gill and the Home Secretary had a meeting with the Additional Director General Crime Gujarat, namely OP Mathur, the Home Minister Amit Shah and that they were discussing whether legal assistance could be provided to Dinesh MN. Mr Rajeev Dasot has also stated before CBI that on 27.11.2005, the CM of Rajasthan had visited Udaipur and that Shri Dinesh MN was presented before the CM who appreciated his work regarding the encounter of Sohrabuddin and also posed for photographs together. He has further stated that after receiving inputs, the Honorable CM of Rajasthan had also announced awards for Shri Dinesh.

Another witness, Shri Ali Hasan Vohra, PW28, has stated before the CBI on 17.10.2010 to the affect that his company’s name Maryam Marble Corporation. He has stated that in connection with the purchase of a Gangsaw Polishing Machine, he had certain differences with the owner of the Ms. Rajasthan Industry Jodhpur who had sold the said machine for 52 lakhs in 1983. As the machine was not working properly, Ali Hasan had not paid back 18-19 lakh rupees. On 25.07.2003 one person called Azam along with some more people had met Hasan and told him that they had come to recover the money for Ravi Aggrawal, the owner of Rajasthan Industries, Jodhpur. This move was however thwarted with the help of one Shri Hamid Lala who was a local goon. Infact Azam and his friends got arrested and an FIR No. 389 of 03 was registered by Amba Mata Police Station on 03.09.2003. Shri Ali further alleges that on 31.12.2004 his friend Hamid Lala was murdered by Azam and his friends. Further that Sohrabuddin was the gang leader of Azam and his friends and there motive was to create a fear and extort money from the businessmen of Udaipur. He further alleged that he had come to know that they had demanded a large amount of money from RK Marbles and Sohrabuddin had died only because of that reason.

In the recent supplementary chargesheet, the CBI has specifically placed in the case papers the records of the Circuit House of Udaipur dated 27th December to 30th December 2005, which showed that during this period Shri DG Vanzara had stayed there along with the personal staff of Shri Gulab Chand Kataria. During this period, Shri Vanzara, Shri Gulab Chand Kataria and Shri OM Mathur, had held a meeting at a secluded place called Jag Mandir in Udaipur.

Substantiating this collusion between Shri Kataria and the Gujarat Police, another witness (PW33) named Mustaq Ahmed, resident of Udaipur also stated in his statement before the CBI recorded on 24.6.2010, that Sohrabuddin was planning to extort money from the marble traders of Udaipur and Rajsamand and that RK Marble was specifically mentioned by Sohrabuddin. He has specifically stated that, during September-October 2005, there was a discussion going on amongst the Marble traders that Sohrabuddin had threatened the RK Marble people for a huge money and to counter this threat of extortion, the RK Marble people had contacted their political contacts which included then Home Minister of Rajasthan Shri Gulab Chand Kataria and the BJP Leader Shri Om Mathur who was incharge of Gujarat BJP. Mr Mathur and Mr Kataria had then had set the police on Sohrabuddin’s trail.

Shri Fateh Sinh Rathod, PW47 of CBI, has recorded a statement on 02.07.2010, stating that he had started his business of trading in marble at Rajsamand in 1990. He has stated that it had come to his personal knowledge that in October-November 2004, Sohrabuddin and his friends had threatened the RK Marble owner and had demanded money. He has further stated that the owner of RK Marble was a very rich person and was very close to the Home Minister Shri Gulab Chand Kataria and the in-charge of BJP affairs of Gujarat, Shri Om Mathur, and it is the latter 2 persons who had colluded with the Gujarat Home Minister and had gotten Sourabuddin encountered.

The aforesaid facts which have come on record, right from 2007 would prima facie establish that it was the Marble Lobby led by the RK Marbles who had gone after Sohrabuddin for his alleged extortion activities. The CBI ought to have made an in-depth investigation into the role of Mr Kataria and Mr Om Mathur way back in 2010 instead of letting the investigation linger for 3 more years. It would be wholly wrong therefore to say either that Shri Gulab Chand Kataria is innocent or that CBI has filed the supplementary chargesheet as a result of a political gambit.

They might have gotten away with Sohrabuddin, but they killed Kausarbi too.