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Newsmaker: Dahyabhai Gobarji Vanzara

A supercop's resentment explodes

Premal Balan 

"Supercop" and "encounter specialist" are some of the adjectives used to describe suspended deputy inspector general of police from Gujarat, Dahyabhai Gobarji Vanzara, 59, popularly know as D G Vanzara, who recently resigned from the Indian Police Service (IPS), charging the government with failing to protect the police officers who acted in accordance with the government's policy against "Pakistan-inspired terrorism".

The letter raises fundamental questions about the role of Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Narendra Modi's conduct.

As a legal document, it is hard to see the utility of Vanzara's epistle of frustration with the chief minister and more importantly with the home minister of Gujarat. After more than six years (during which bail orders have also been reserved by the Bombay High Court), it is hard to see how Vanzara can be treated as approver by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its quest for justice.

On the other hand, the letter has sent some frissons of misgiving among the Bhartiya Janata Party workers: if a person like Vanzara, who did what his political masters asked him to do and was 'betrayed' by the said masters, what are the implications for those workers who look to Modi and Shah as their 'God"?

This discussion is going on even as the party dithers over Modi's leadership status upgrade.

Vanzara, who joined the Gujarat police in 1980 as a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) and was later promoted to the cadre in 1987, is currently in jail on charges of criminal conspiracy and murder in connection with three fake police encounter cases. He and several of his team members are accused in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kausar Bi (2005), Tulsiram Prajapati (2006) and 19-year-old Mumbai-girl Ishrat Jahan and three others (2004).

Once considered close to Modi, Vanzara said in his resignation letter, dated September 1, that police officers involved in alleged fake encounters "simply implemented the conscious policy" of the government whose place "should either be in Taloja central prison at Navi Mumbai or in Sabarmati Central Prison at Ahmedabad."

In his letter, Vanzara blamed Shah for his arrest. "I have been maintaining my graceful silence for such a long period only and only because of my supreme faith in and highest respect for Shri Narendrabhai Modi, whom I used to adore like a God. But, I am sorry to state that my God could not rise to the occasion under the evil influence of Amitbhai Shah who usurped his eyes and ears," he stated in his resignation letter.

Vanzara's meteoric rise began from the early 2000s, when he and his team were credited for a number of encounters to eliminate 'terrorists'. He was in command during police encounters which had led to killing over half a dozen persons whom he later in press conference described as terrorists plotting to assassinate Modi.

However, the downfall of Vanzara's career began in April 2007. He and two other officers who worked under him were arrested on April 24 for the alleged encounter with Sohrabuddin Sheikh and the killing of his wife, Kausar Bi, by the state crime investigation department (CID) based on a complain by Sohrabuddin's brother. He has been in jail since then.

Vanzara's arrest led to a flood of complaints claiming that encounters by Vanzara and his team were fake and those killed were innocent Investigation into four such encounters were handed over CBI by the Gujarat High Court. Out of these, in three cases Vanzara has been named as prime accused and charged with criminal conspiracy and murder.

Moreover, other killings with a question mark came to light after his arrest. There was Samir Khan, killed in Usmanpura, Ahmedabad, in 2002. Sadik Jamal of Bhavnagar, killed in 2003 and whose parents insist it was a fake encounter. The Sadik Jamal case is being probed by CBI.

Despite being in jail, Vanzara never lost his sense of being a He has a dedicated following among the police staff who greet him when he comes to court to attend hearings in cases where he is an accused. Always dressed in perfectly ironed white trousers, shirt and sports shoes, Vanzara takes note of every proceeding in the court.

The suspended cop has a big following among his community which falls under the denotified tribe. Vanzara hails from Illol village in the Sabarkantha district of north Gujarat, where despite all allegations against him, he is a celebrity. During court appearances in 2007-08 from his community would regularly come to court to greet him and seek his blessings.

Even while in prison, Vanzara has kept himself busy and has been taking part in various activities held there. A couple of years ago he played Lord Krishna's father Vasudeva as part of the Shrimad Bhagvad Saptah (Bhagvad Gita recital) held in the prison premises. He carried an infant in a basket atop his head, like in the mythological story of Vasudeva carrying infant Krishna through the waters of Yamuna to save him from the wrath of his uncle, Kansa. During his over six-year stint as an undertrial prisoner, Vanzara has earned a post-graduate diploma in spiritual education from Annamalai University's distance education wing.

First Published: Fri, September 06 2013. 00:14 IST