The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Zahira shifts to resort

Ahmedabad, Nov. 5: Zahira Sheikh, the star witness in the Best Bakery case who did a U-turn accusing rights activist Teesta Setalvad of tutoring her to implicate innocent people in the massacre, spent the day shut up inside a resort on the outskirts of the city.

Commandos had escorted Zahira, whose sister was among 14 people killed in the carnage during the 2002 Gujarat riots, to Ahmedabad last night from Vadodara, where she had made the stunning turnaround on Wednesday. The main gate of Silver Oak resort owned by a BJP functionary, remained closed. No one could meet Zahira, except advocates Jal Unwala and Atul Mistry.

In Mumbai, the prosecution in the bakery case called for speeding up examination of another eyewitness, Yasmin, afraid that she too could turn hostile. Yasmin, the first wife of Zahira's brother Nafitullah ' who also did a U-turn ' was slated to appear before the court today. But with the cross-examination of third eyewitness Shahzad Khan continuing, her examination did not start.

Yasmin had earlier spoken against Zahira and her family, accusing them of being untrue in their accounts of the carnage at the Vadodara bakery.

Public prosecutor Manjula Rao today said Yasmin ' who stays in the bakery premises but is now in Mumbai, and who the prosecution feels will now be the 'star witness' if Zahira, her mother and two brothers don't turn up ' may be put under pressure to change her stand.

Asked about Zahira's next move, advocate Mistry said: 'She will go to Mumbai to make her statement when fresh summons are issued to her'. There was a rumour that an influential BJP politician called on Zahira last night, but it could not be confirmed.

High court lawyers Unwala and Mistry have been with Zahira since she surfaced in Vadodara. How the duo, who are not well-known, came into the picture is unclear.

Bilkis case

Decks were cleared on Friday for the commencement of trial in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and massacre with a special court accepting the draft charges proposed by the prosecution against 20 accused, adds PTI.

Special judge U.D. Salvi decided to frame charges on November 19 against the accused, who attacked a group of 17 members of the minority community during the post-Godhra riots on March 3, 2002.

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