1. The (Fake) Encounter
On 23 November 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi were travelling from Hyderabad to Ahmedabad. At 1:30 am, the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) of the Gujarat Police stopped the bus at Sangli, Maharashtra and escorted the couple off the bus.
Three days later, on 26 November 2005, Sohrabuddin Sheikh was shot dead in what deputy inspector general of police DG Vanzara calls an encounter. According to the police, Sheikh had been operating from the Narol area of Ahmedabad city and when a police team spotted him riding a motorcycle near the Vishala Circle, they tried to intercept him, but he refused to stop. In a desperate attempt to escape, he shot at the policemen who shot back in self-defence and killed him.
In the press conference convened that day, DIG Vanzara told reporters that “Sheikh, a sharpshooter with underworld connections, had come to the city at the behest of the LeT and the ISI to assassinate a top political figure.” Although Vanzara did not name anyone, it was speculated that the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi was the target.
According to Vanzara, the Gujarat ATS had acted on the basis of intelligence inputs from the Rajasthan Police, who were also part of the encounter team. As for Sohrabuddin’s criminal past, Vanzara said he was wanted in an arms case in Madhya Pradesh and for a murder case in Rajasthan. Additionally, he said “Sohrabuddin was known to be a close aide of Pakistan-based Sharif Khan and Rasool Parti, who are themselves henchmen of Dawood Ibrahim and were instrumental in the assassination bid on a BJP leader in Gujarat in the recent past, including the murder of the former home minister Haren Pandya.”