‘Will speak to judicial panel about snooping scandal’

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New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Breaking his silence over the alleged snooping controversy regarding a woman, former Gujarat minister Amit Shah said he would tell the judicial inquiry commission whether there was surveillance or she was given security.

Shah has been charged for ordering snooping on a woman when he was home minister of Gujarat.

Replying to a question in India TV’s “Aap Ki Adalat”, Shah said: “I had avoided speaking on this issue so far.

“But for the first time, I want to say: whether the woman was under surveillance or was given security, I will reveal this before the judicial inquiry commission only,” he said.

“For now, I can tell this much that nothing was done which a man in public life should have avoided doing so,” Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s confidante, said.

The Gujarat government has set up a judicial inquiry commission headed by former High Court judge Sugnyaben K. Bhatt to probe into the alleged snooping on a woman by the state police.

Replying to queries about alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin and Ishrat Jahan, Shah said: “Sohrabuddin was an ‘arms trader from Rajasthan’. Nearly 200 AK-47 rifles, 250 hand grenades and ammunition valued Rs.1 lakh were found from his place.

“I have no personal enmity with Sohrabuddin, nor am I supporting fake encounters, but the fact remains that in Gujarat only encounters of anti-national elements took place, not of anti-social elements,” he said.

He also dubbed it as attempt to defame Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate.

“When I was home minister, there were 1,500 encounters across India, out of which only 14 took place in Gujarat. Then, why is the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probing only these 14 encounters? Because they want to defame Modi government, nothing else,” he said.

Shah said he was arrested for the Sohrabuddin encounter.

However, the Gujarat High Court said there was no prima facie evidence against him, and that verdict stands even today before the Supreme Court. “Till date no charges have been framed against me”.

Asked about his frequent phone conversations with police officer N.K. Amin before and after the encounter, Shah replied: “The CBI has all my telephonic records for the past five years. During this time, I spoke to 130 police officers. Do you mean to say, I discussed encounters with each one of them?

“I was the home minister. Do they want me to speak to the executive engineer of water supply department?”

In a jibe at the CBI, Shah said: “Fortunately, Osama bin Laden did not die in an encounter in Gujarat, otherwise, they would have framed charges against Obama”.

On the Ishrat Jahan encounter, Shah pointed out that the disclosures made by DSP D.H. Goswami about a June 12, 2004 meeting between him, P.P. Pandey, D.K. Vanzara and IB officer Rajender Singh, two days after which Jahan was killed, were not true.

“Goswami’s statement before an Additional Judicial Magistrate was made after he was out on ‘default bail’, meaning the CBI did not file chargesheet against him within the stipulated 90 days. Clearly, both are connected.”

Shah said: “I have nothing to do with Ishrat Jahan encounter. How can a Gujarat minister call in an IB man working under the UPA government? Was I so powerful?”

On electoral prospects, Shah, who is in charge of the party in Uttar Pradesh, said: “I can say definitely BJP will emerge as the largest party from Uttar Pradesh while the second party will be at least 20 seats behind. The Samajwadi Party will be obliterated.”

Shah refuted allegations that it was he who was injecting communalism in Uttar Pradesh politics with the riots in Muzaffarnagar.

“I did not go to Muzaffarnagar, I did not go even to the neighbouring districts. The main incident could have been resolved by applying CrPC (Criminal Procedure code), but police did not take action.”

Asked why two BJP MLAs — Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana — arrested during Muzaffarnagar riots, were felicitated at Modi’s rally in Agra, Shah said: “They were not felicitated for the riots. They were illegally kept in custody under NSA, that’s why we felicitated them on their release.”

Shah added Gujarat riots are being “communalised” even after 12 years, though not a single town faced curfew during all these years.

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