GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat’s junior Home Minister, Mr Amit Shah, who is close to the Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, on Thursday did not show up before the CBI for questioning in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case but said he will appear on Friday after the agency sent a second summons during the day.
It is for the first time that a state minister has been summoned in connection with the alleged fake encounter by the Gujarat police near Ahmedabad in which Sohrabuddin, an alleged gangster, was killed on November 26, 2005.
The CBI issued the second summons to the Minister of State for Home to appear before it at the agency’s office on Friday after he did not show up within the stipulated time of 1 p.m. on Thursday. Mr Modi holds the home portfolio.
The minister said he would appear on Friday after he was given time till 1 p.m. by the probe agency.
“A second summon has been issued to me for tomorrow. I would make myself available and would answer all questions,” Mr Shah said in a statement from an undisclosed location.
Mr Shah, a senior BJP leader, was holding the office as minister of state for home when the encounter took place. The CBI had the option of considering declaring Mr Shah as an absconder and arrest him if he ignored the summons.
Mr Shah also said that he had no role in the encounter and that his name in his capacity as MoS (home) has “not come on record anywhere”.
The minister said he was out of the capital for some “personal work” when the CBI sent summons to his home to appear before it.
“It was difficult to make it in the time limit of 1 p.m. as I was out of time. This is surprising that a central agency treats a home minister of a state in this manner. It raises some doubts about their intentions. They could have given time for me to make myself appear before them,” he said.
Mr Shah has been recently skipping cabinet meetings, including the one held on Wednesday, and not attending office. His whereabouts were also not publicly known.
“(Amit) Shah has been asked to appear before us today at CBI office in Gandhinagar,” the CBI IG, Mr P Kandaswamy told reporters earlier in the day.
Mr Kandasway said the summons has been issued to Mr Shah for the purpose of examination as he is “acquainted with the circumstances of the case”.
Mr Shah’s lawyer, Mr Mahesh Jethmalani cast doubts at the urgency shown in issuing the first summons earlier in the day.
“He was given summons at 10.30 a.m. and asked to come at 1 p.m. That itself creates some doubts about the bona fides of the investigation. No accused person gets such short notice to come and answer a summons for interrogation.”
The state government said it will cooperate with the process of law on the issue of summons to Mr Shah.
“I have come to know about it (issue of summons) from media. Whatever is the process of law one would follow it,” the government spokesman and Health Minister, Mr Jaynarayan Vyas said.