Former cop Vanzara allowed entry into Gujarat

Ahmedabad, April 2 (IANS) A special CBI court here on Saturday overruled the CBI’s objections and modified its earlier order to allow retired IPS officer D.G. Vanzara to return to his home in Gujarat.

Vanzara is a key accused in the Ishrat Jahan and Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter cases.

In his plea before the Special judge S.J. Raje, Vanzara who was first arrested on April 24, 2007 and released in February last year, after spending almost eight years in jail, had claimed threat to his life in Mumbai where hardcore criminals like Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Shakeel, besides several terror outfits, were active.

He had also cited medical reasons and parity with the other accused, who are living in the state.

Vanzara was confined to Mumbai according to the bail conditions imposed by the Bombay High Court while granting him bail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Later, the special CBI court also prevented him from entering Gujarat while granting him bail in the Ishrat Jahan case last year.

Last month, the Bombay High Court lifted this condition allowing him to leave Mumbai, but he had to remain there because of the condition imposed in the Ishrat Jahan case.

But the special CBI court here allowed his bail modification plea on Saturday and allowed him to enter and stay in Gujarat, though he would need to mark his presence in the court on every Saturday.

The CBI had objected to Vanzara’s modification plea expressing concern that the witnesses might be influenced and evidence tampered if he was permitted to stay in Gujarat.

Vanzara, a native of Ilol in Sabarkantha district of north Gujarat, was Deputy Commissioner of Police, crime branch, here when Ishrat Jahan, her boyfriend Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai and two Pakistani nationals Amjadali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed allegedly in a shootout with the Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad Aon June 15, 2004.

He was also made accused by the CBI in alleged encounter cases of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati which took place when he was heading the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the state police.

He was granted bail by a Mumbai court in Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati encounter cases in September 2014.

Vanzara had in his bail modification petition contended that he was a Z-category protectee and Mumbai was the native place of hardcore and internationally declared criminals like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and others who are facing red corner notices.

He claimed his threat perception spawned from the fact that while in service he had booked such criminals.

According to Vanzara, he had a “constant and serious” threat from such declared criminals as well as terrorist groups like SIMI, Indian Mujahidin, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

He said since such terrorist groups had widespread networks in Mumbai, to compel him to stay there or anywhere outside Gujarat would be like exposing him to the “jaws of death.”

His application also said that he was suffering from a skin ailment. His doctors have advised him to have home-made food that was not possible in Mumbai.

Vanzara also sought parity with his senior officer and co-accused DGP P.P. Pandey. He said in the application, “Charges levelled against him (Pandey) are either equal or more grave than him. However, Pandey has not been barred from living in Gujarat.”

Later, Vanzara tweeted: “Today Ahmedabad CBI court has cleared my entry into Gujarat. Now I will be able to go to my residence at Gandhinagar after 9 years. God is Great.”

Meanwhile, Vanzara’s son Prithvi told a section of the media that his father would return within a week since he needed to complete the necessary procedures.

He said his father would be given a grand reception when he reaches home. He claimed that the entire police force of Gujarat was happy since the Vanzaras consider the police as there very own family and not a government department.

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