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Bilkis case: CBI indicts Gujarat police

February 25, 2004 17:01 IST

Severely indicting the Gujarat police for closing the Bilkis Yakoob Rasool gangrape case, the CBI told the Supreme Court said that the victim and the witnesses are facing a security threat.

Bilkis had alleged that a mob had raped and killed several of her relatives on March 1, 2002 when the state witnessed unprecedented communal riots in the aftermath of the burning of a coach of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra. She had moved the apex court challenging the decision of the Gujarat police to close the case.

The SC had directed the CBI to take up the investigation. Several police officers connected with the probe of the case were questioned and this was followed by the arrest of the Investigating Officer.

The CBI informed the apex court about the lapses on the part of the police in tracing the accused and the bodies and in closing the case claiming contradictions in the statements of Bilkis, which were recorded by the police.

The agency discovered that some of the bodies had been buried with salt to speed up decomposition. It has exhumed the skeletons and sent them for forensic tests for identification.

The report said further investigations were on to find out more number of people involved in the ghastly crime that took place at Panivela.

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The agency requested the court that it be given three months time to complete the probe into the case as well as the inquiry into the conduct of several police officers.

Exposing the dubious role of the Gujarat police, the CBI said key witnesses were so afraid of the state police that 'they have been requesting the agency officials for secret and confidential meetings to give evidence'.

The Gujarat Government on December 16, 2003 had agreed before the Supreme Court for a probe by CBI into the incident after resisting tooth and nail any probe by an independent agency into riot cases.

Salve had said that despite clear information about the accused given in the FIR by the victim, the police chose to file a closure report before the trial court on the technical ground of contradictions in the statements of Bilkis.

The court had earlier directed the Gujarat police to 'keep off' Bilkis when it was alleged that they were harassing her on one pretext or the other at times visiting her late at night.

A bench comprising Justice S Rajendra Babu and Justice G P Mathur complimented the CBI for making 'substantial progress' in the case and granted three months more to complete its probe.

Appearing for the complainant, senior advocate Harish Salve said the agency has raised serious doubts about the security of Bilkis as well as the witnesses in the case. He proposed to move an application seeking protection to the victim and the witnesses by a central force like the Central Reserve Police Force.

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