Gujarat police suspended officer who probed Sohrabuddin Sheik encounter case

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A day before a special CBI court in Mumbai is scheduled to pronounce its verdict in the high profile case of fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, wife Kauser Bi and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rajnish Rai, who was the first investigator in the case, and had arrested three IPS officers as key accused.

Mr. Rai is a 1992 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, and currently serving central deputation heading the Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) School of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh.

His suspension comes after he sought voluntary retirement in August, and had reportedly written to the MHA that he may be considered deemed to have resigned from the service. The centre, however, had rejected his plea seeking VRS.

However, he had stopped attending office after applying for VRS. On the ground of his absence from the place of posting, his suspension order has been issued. He even challenged the MHA’s order rejecting his plea for VRS before a Central Administrative Tribunal in Ahmedabad.

In its order, the MHA stated that disciplinary proceeding is contemplated against Mr. Rai in “connection with his unauthorized handing over the charge of IG & Principal, CIAT School, CRPF, Chittoor and abdication of office on 30.11.2018.” The order also said that till the time he was under suspension, Mr. Rai would not leave Chittoor without the permission of the Director-General of CRPF.

The suspension order was delivered to Mr. Rai’s residence in Vadodara. While receiving the suspension order, Mr. Rai marked his “protest.” Mr. Rai wrote, “The order of suspension by MHA, GOI is absolutely illegal and unconstitutional as I have retired from service as for operations of law and rules after office hours on on 30.11.2018.”

Way back in 2007, as DIG in the CID (crime) in Gujarat, Mr. Rai arrested three IPS officers — D.G. Vanjara and Rajkumar Pandian of Gujarat cadre and Dinesh M.N. of Rajasthan cadre as key accused in the fake encounter case.

The case was subsequently transferred to the CBI by the Supreme Court, which also shifted its trial from Gujarat to Maharashtra considering high profile accused top police officials and also politicians.

However, all IPS officers and politicians who were charged in the case have been discharged by the trial court at various stages and now only lower level policemen are standing trial for which the court’s verdict is scheduled to be pronounced on December 21 in Mumbai.

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