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Ahmedabad, July 23, 2010
Gujarat Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, who had been summoned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for questioning today in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, sent his legal team to meet the agency's officials this afternoon.
Mr Mitesh Amin, one of the Minister's lawyers, told reporters, before going into the CBI's office a little after noon, that he would request the agency to provide a list of the questions it wanted to ask Mr Shah.
He said the CBI had provided Mr Shah with very little time to respond and wanted to question him about events that took place a long time ago.
"If they provide us a questionnaire, we can consult the records and provide proper answers," Mr Amin said.
The lawyer said Mr Shah very much wanted to appear before the CBI and to cooperate in the investigations into the case. "But we feel that that the time given to us is very little," he said.
Asked if there was a chance that Mr Shah would make an appearance before the CBI before the deadline of 1 pm expired today, the lawyer said it would depend on the response the agency gave to their request.
To more questions about their plans in case the agency turned down their request and about whether the Minister would seek anticipatory bail, Mr Amin said he could not discuss such issues. He said much depended on how the CBI reacted to their request and hoped the agency would cooperate with them in this regard.
The CBI had summoned Mr Shah to appear before it yesterday but he did not show up, apparently because he was out of town and the notice was too short. The agency issued a second summons yesterday asking him to appear before it by 1 pm today.
The CBI is probing the Sohrabuddin case at the behest of the Supreme Court, which has asked it to file a status report by July 31. This is the first time that it has summoned a minister in the State Government for questioning in the case.
CBI Inspector General P Kandaswamy told reporters yesterday that a summons had been issued to Mr Shah. He said the minister had been called for examination because he was "acquainted with the circumstances of the case".
Sohrabuddin was shot dead on November 26, 2005 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The Gujarat police said that Sohrabuddin was a terrorist and had plotted to kill Mr Modi and that he was killed in an encounter. But various investigations since then have indicated that it was a case of a fake encounter.
According to various accounts, Sohrabuddin and his wife, Kausar Bi, were picked up from a bus and taken to a farmhouse. Some days later, Sohrabuddin was shot dead. Hiw wife was also killed later and reports have said that her body was burnt and disposed of by members of the state Anti-Terrorist Squad.
The CBI has collected evidence suggesting that Mr Shah was in constant touch over the telephone with senior policemen involved in the case during the period before and after the fake encounter and sources said he would be questioned closely on this aspect.
Mr Shah has not been attending cabinet meetings of late and has also been absent from his office in recent days amidst growing speculation that he could be arrested by the CBI in connection with the case.
Senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of Gujarat such as Abhay Chudasama, the head of Crime Branch, Ahmedabad and D G Vanzara, who was in 2005 a Deputy Inspector General of Police, have been arrested by the police in connection with the case.
Gujarat Health Minister Jainarain Vyas, who is the Government spokesman, said yesterday the State Government would follow the due process of law in the matter.