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Guru keeps encounter cop ticking
- Vanzara draws comfort from tele-evangelist

Ahmedabad, May 5: D.G. Vanzara, the Gujarat police officer now in a lock-up on charges of killing Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter and then his wife Kauser Bi in cold blood, today said the teachings of new-age guru and tele-evangelist Asaram Bapu were seeing him through his difficult times.

But Vanzara did not show any signs of strain in a brief verbal encounter with the media in a metropolitan magistrate’s court this morning.

He was brought to the court along with co-accused superintendents of police, Rajkumar Pandian and Dineshkumar M.N.

Pandian and Dineshkumar avoided getting within earshot of the media.

Speaking in Gujarati and Hindi, Vanzara said: “The battle lines have been drawn.” Before an explanation of the “battle lines” could be asked, he moved on. Someone asked him if he was feeling “abandoned”.

The magistrate remanded the three officers in police custody till May 8. The CID also moved an application seeking permission to subject the officers to narco-analysis tests, a medico-psychological procedure for interrogation.

The three officers have refused to undergo the tests. Unless the court grants the investigators permission, they cannot be subjected to it.

As the officers were brought to the court on the fourth floor of the building, onlookers rushed to catch a glimpse. There were stray slogans from three small groups — one shouting “Vanzara zindabad” was the loudest. Slogans of “Sohrabuddin zindabad” and even “Prajapati zindabad” were heard.

Tulsi Prajapati, said to be both an accomplice of Sohrabuddin and a police informer, was killed in an encounter in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district on December 28, 2006, while he was being escorted to Ahmedabad from Udaipur. That killing is also being investigated.

Today, asked about Kauser, Vanzara shot back: “Who Kauser'”

He said he has stated in court that Sohrabuddin was a terrorist and saw no reason to alter his stand.

Almost patronisingly, he looked at the large gathering of journalists — some of whom he appeared to have met — and said: “I have no grudge against you. You are not being personal.”

Vanzara said he could not read newspapers or watch television in the lock-up but was listening to discourses of Asaram Bapu. His main ashram is on the banks of the Sabarmati in Ahmedabad and he claims among his followers politicians of many hues. Prominent among them is Gujarat health minister Ashok Bhatt against whom civil rights organisations have levelled allegations of instigating rioters in 2002.

Vanzara said he was doing yoga prescribed by the guru.

Several of those who turned up in court today, as last week, to hero-worship Vanzara are also volunteers for the VHP.

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