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Media spreads half truth on the Prajapati encounter case so that Rahul Gandhi can spread whole lies

If one bothers to look beyond the headline that almost reads like it has been written it caps with several exclamation points and prefixed with "SHOCKING", one realises the pointlessness and perhaps the viciousness of the story.

There are certain cases which are eternal political gimmicks. Before every election, like clockwork, some new PIL will be filed or some “explosive” statement will be made that will be splashed all over “friendly” media so Congress can take potshots at BJP. The proof will be absent. The fact would be paltry. The article would not include vital elements of the case. But a good story is what sells sometimes especially when politicians have their friendly neighbourhood publications.

“Friendly media” proceeded to do just that, today, with the Tulsi Prajapati encounter case of 2006. Evidently, Sandeep Tamgadge, the chief investigating officer in the 2006 Tulsiram Prajapati encounter case, has said that BJP president Amit Shah and IPS officers D.G. Vanzara, Dinesh M.N. and Rajkumar Pandiyan were the “principal conspirators” in the controversial killing.

A shocking statement that would raise alarm bells in every citizen’s mind. The media has splashed this statement everywhere.

Amit Shah a Key Conspirator in Prajapati Killing, Investigating Officer Tells Court” screams The Print headline. Filed under “rights”, The Wire headline says almost exactly the same.

If one bothers to look beyond the headline that almost reads like it has been written it caps with several exclamation points and prefixed with “SHOCKING”, one realises the pointlessness and perhaps the viciousness of the story.

The Print, however, one has to concede was far more honest than The Wire. The Print ran the PTI copy that said (emphasis added):

“CIO Sandeep Tamgadge, who deposed during the ongoing trial, however, conceded that his claim was not supported by any documentary evidence in the charge sheet filed by him”

It is interesting that The Wire leaves out this aspect altogether. In their long report, not once do they mention that the CIO who is accusing Amit Shah and others of being “chief conspirators” does so right before conceding that he has no documentary evidence whatsoever to support the claims he made in the charge sheet filed by him.

The Wire goes on to play up Sandeep Tamgadge’s statement, says that these revelations come at a “crucial time” since “witnesses” have been turning hostile. The article, however, fails to inform its readers that the court observed that political undertones were attached to this case.

When Amit Shah was exonerated in December 2014, judge MB Gosavi at a special court run by CBI had said:

The police case “mostly relies on the statements of witnesses, which are hearsay in nature”

The other bit of “incriminating evidence” against Amit Shah was that there were several calls made during the time to DG Vanzara. It can only be called outlandish that “they talked many times” would be a pivotal piece of evidence, but it was. And as such, it was thrown out by the court summarily.

In the revelations by Tamgadge, he says, “There was some incriminating material against the trio. But those statements were not filed in the charge sheet.” This is right after he said he had no documentary proof. The defence then moved an application, saying the CBI should produce these statements in the court. The court will hear the application Thursday.

In fact, on April 8th, 2013 the Supreme Court had clubbed the Prajapati case with the Sohrabuddin case. Quoting from a The Wire article itself which was written by the same journalist on 20th November 2018:

Amitabh Thakur, chief investigating officer in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case, has told the special CBI court that the 22 people named as accused had no “monetary or political motive” to carry out the killing. This statement, made on November 19, is likely to deal a severe blow to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s case.

The Wire article excitedly goes on to claim that the court can still summon Amit Shah if it likes without invoking double jeopardy. It mentions in passing that Amit Shah was exonerated in the Sohrabuddin case as well.

In fact, The Wire beautifully dons the role of the investigating officer themselves. In today’s article while reporting Tamgadge’s statements, other than leaving out the fact that he himself has admitted that he has no documentary evidence to back his claims, The Wire article says this:

Although his predecessor, also a senior IPS officer, Amitabh Thakur, did not turn hostile, he failed to reiterate the evidence from his investigation when he took the witness stand.

The Wire assumes that Amitabh Thakur, who was investigating the Sohrabuddin case had evidence from his investigation which he purposely failed to “reiterate” when he took the stand. However, as one recalls, Amitabh Thakur had himself proclaimed that none of the “accused” had a motive to carry out the killing. On what basis did The Wire draw the conclusion, one would never know.

Here is another flimsy charge that The Wire drummed up as a sensational revelation. The Wire says:

According to Tamgadge, Ashish Pandya, police sub-inspector in the special operation group, Palanpur, shot himself in the left arm to show that he was injured during the alleged encounter. He substantiated his claims with forensic reports and expert findings which said that such an injury is possible even when it is “self- inflicted”.

The keyword in this sentence is “EVEN WHEN”. Tamgadge says that Ashish Pandya shot himself in the arm to show that he was injured during the alleged encounter. The forensic report, however, does not conclusively say that the gunshot wound was indeed self-inflicted. It says that “such an injury is possible EVEN WHEN it is self-inflicted”.

For anyone who knows the English language even remotely, it would be evident that this forensic report seems no proof at all if it says what Tamgadge is claiming it says. The observation clearly means that it could be inflicted by someone else, but, such an injury can also be self-inflicted. That is no proof.

Coming to the other aspects which were conveniently left out by The Wire. Recently, Sohrabuddin’s brother had himself said that Amit Shah’s name was added in the case as a conspiracy in 2010, under the Congress regime. Nayamuddin Shaikh, the youngest brother of Sohrabuddin Shaikh revealed to a special CBI court that the CBI had on its own added the names of Gujarat police officer Abhay Chudasama and BJP President Amit Shah to his statement recorded in 2010 relating to the Sohrabuddin encounter.

In fact, Arun Jaitley in 2014 had also spoken about file notings that revealed how the Congress government and CBI wanted to frame Amit Shah and ultimately, Narendra Modi in the case.

It is worthy to recall here that Sohrabuddin Sheikh was accused of possessing 40 AK-47 assault rifles that were recovered from his house in 1995. At the time of his killing, he also had more than 60 pending cases against him, ranging from extorting protection money from marble factories in Gujarat and Rajasthan to arms smuggling in Madhya Pradesh to murder cases both in Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Sheikh was a notorious underworld criminal with links to the Sharifkhan Pathan alias Chhota Dawood and Abdul Latif gangs, and with Rasool Parti and Brajesh Singh, both known to be close to India’s underworld kingpin Dawood Ibrahim. Tulsiram Prajapati was Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s close aide. It is believed that Prajapati was an eyewitness in Sohrabuddin encounter case.

Then, The Wire article brings up the Ishrat Jahan case. Tamgadge was also the officer overseeing the Ishrat investigation. The Wire tried to drag the names of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi into the case by saying that the people accused were close to the both of them. Some facts of this case, have been obviously left out by The Wire.

Ishrat Jahan was an LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) operative. This was a charge widely rejected by Congress and other politicians. Some even branded her ‘Bihar ki Beti’. Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley dropped a bombshell. Headley told the court that Ishrat Jahan was a member of LeT. Headley said Lakhvi told him about the botched up operation in India by Muzzamil Butt. He was told that a woman named Ishrat Jahan was killed in the shootout. Headley had revealed this even to the FBI during his disclosures in the US. It was also revealed over and over again the Jahan and others had plans to assassinate Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Despite Congress’ efforts to implicate Amit Shah in the encounter of Ishrat Jahan, even in 2013, under the Congress government, the CBI had decided to not include Amit Shah’s name in the charge sheet because there was just no evidence. CBI, under Congress, had said that there is no evidence to link Amit Shah to Ishrat Jahan encounter. In 2014 again, the CBI reiterated exactly the same.

In fact, According to RVS Mani, Kamal Nath had met him in Urban Development Ministry, had allegedly asked RVS Mani to change the narrative of the Ishrat Jahan encounter case to implicate Narendra Modi, who at that time was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and further the Hindu terror narrative. He claims that there was pressure on him to declare Ishran Jahan as an innocent, so as to implicate Narendra Modi in her ‘encounter’.

RVS Mani has claimed that Kamal Nath, who was accompanied by two other officers, requested him to alter the facts of the matter, but RVS Mani then had insisted to present the facts and refused to indulge in falsifying any evidence.

The reply by Kamal Nath to RVS Mani’s statements, if believed to be true is rather shocking. According to the Mani, Kamal Nath offensively replied, “Bahar log Rahul Gandhi ka peshaab peeney ke liye thayar hai, aap itna chota kaam nahi kar sakte ho? (People are ready to drink Rahul Gandhi’s urine and can’t you do this small favour?)”

There is another curious aspect of The Wire report. In their last paragraph, The Wire says, “In 2015, his security cover was withdrawn and an attempt made by the CBI to prosecute him in two cases that critics said were trumped-up – one of dereliction of duty and another of falsely implicating the subject of an anti-corruption investigation”. 

To substantiate this charge, The Wire only refers to another The Wire article written by Ashish Khetan, the former leader of Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party. The Ashish Khetan report too gives no further references. This specific charge only appears in The Wire and we couldn’t find any other reference to substantiate this claim.

This entire shoddily constructed article full of half-truth was plugged by Congress President Rahul Gandhi. He used this story to say that BJP should not have “such a man” as its President perhaps forgetting that Amit Shah has been exonerated and it is Rahul Gandhi, in fact, who is currently out on bail in corruption charges.

It is evident that as these concocted cases breath their last with the Congress ecosystem that was used to frame the BJP leadership slowly being dismantled, these utterings and intermittent screeches are merely an attempt to keep these issues alive for political gains. The truth, however, is far more complex and how the Congress misused state machinery to concoct Hindu terror and implicate Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, albeit unsuccessfully is for all to know.

The friendly neighbourhood publication The Wire has often peddled half-truth that has then been latched on to by Rahul Gandhi to throw mud around hoping something hits the target.  There is perhaps a reason why Rahul Gandhi chose to plug friendly The Wire and not friendly The Print because the latter actually included the fact that Temgade himself conceded that he had absolutely no documentary proof to back his claims up.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, since October 2017

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