The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops ‘killed’ both man & wife

New Delhi/Ahmedabad, April 27: The Gujarat government had already admitted the husband was killed in a fake encounter — today it told the Supreme Court the wife, too, was probably murdered by its police.

For over a year, the state government had insisted that Kauser Bano had been “missing” since the police shot her husband Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who was allegedly plotting to assassinate chief minister Narendra Modi.

Last month, the state told the apex court Sohrabuddin was framed and killed in cold blood on November 26, 2005, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad – an act that Kauser, 33, would have witnessed. Today, the Modi government’s counsel, K.T.S. Tulsi, said: “There is a suspicion and fear that she (Kauser) may have been killed.”

Both admissions came after the court sent the state a notice on a petition by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin. “I knew she had been killed,” Rubabuddin said from his hometown, Ujjain. “They had to bump her off in secret because she was a housewife. Nobody would have believed them had they branded her a Lashkar terrorist and killed her along with her husband,” said Raees Khan Pathan, a social activist.

A second witness, Tulsiram Prajapati, was killed in an encounter soon after Rubabuddin filed his petition last year.

Prajapati and Sohrabuddin, who had bases in Indore and Ujjain, are believed to have been partners in an extortion racket spanning Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. On November 22, 2005, the two of them and Kauser were travelling on a private luxury bus from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra when a Gujarat police team nabbed them.

According to Prajapati, the police took the couple to a farmhouse near Gandhinagar and on November 24, brought him there to identify Sohrabuddin and Kauser. Around 5 am on November 26, Sohrabuddin was killed and around 10 am, Kauser is believed to have been taken out from the farmhouse in a car. From that point, nothing is known about her.

Rubabuddin said he had met Prajapati some time last year when the extortionist was brought to Ujjain in connection with an old case. “He said the police must have killed my sister-in-law. He said he feared for his own life and told me never to visit Gujarat or Rajasthan,” Rubabuddin said.

The three senior IPS officers behind the fake encounter were arrested on Tuesday. Tulsi said their interrogation was likely to reveal the truth. If Kauser were alive, she would be traced and produced; if not, the court would be told how and when she died, the lawyer said.

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