New Delhi: Facing charges of murder and arrest, Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah, a close associate of chief minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday resigned from the state ministry.
“As I landed here in Delhi, I have information that Amit Shah’s resignation has reached my residence in Gandhinagar. On return, I will accept it and complete the formalities,” Modi, who is here to attend the National Development Council meeting, said.
Asked by reporters whether the resignation amounted to accepting that Shah was guilty, Modi said, “He was accepting it because under the Constitution, certain formalities have to be fulfilled.”
He said Shah would fight the issue legally and expressed confidence that judiciary would provide him justice.
Shah’s resignation comes a day after CBI charged him with kidnapping and murder of alleged gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi in November 2005.
Though, Shah has resigned still nothing was clear about his whereabouts.
In Ahmedabad, officials in the chief minister’s office (CMO) said Shah’s resignation has been accepted by Modi.
The CBI, which filed the chargesheet on Friday before a court in Ahmedabad, has already sent teams for arresting him after he refused to appear before an agency team by Friday’s 1 pm deadline for questioning.
Shah had failed to appear before the CBI on Friday for questioning for the second time in two days following summons issued twice. His anticipatory bail plea shortly after he failed to appear was rejected by special CBI court judge GK Upadhaya. His lawyers were planning to approach the Gujarat high court.
Attacking the Congress, Modi said, “The case against Shah was a revenge for its loss in the 2007 assembly polls when it had made Sohrabuddin a hero. This was a politically motivated action against Amit Shah and the BJP government in Gujarat to corner it and to put obstacles in development work it was carrying out.”
He said, “Shah is completely innocent and the charges against him are fabricated. The CBI is being misused by the Congress against its political rival.”
He said the BJP would go to the people along with those fighting the forces of terror.
Modi said the Congress and Central government had completely “failed” in all fronts in facing the challenges of Kashmir, Maoists and problems from Pakistan.
“The Congress government at the Centre was fully using the CBI to target political rivals after it failed on all fronts,” Modi said.
He said, “The government failed on the prices issue and was faced with an unprecedented bandh. Srinagar is on fire and the government came back fully beaten at the Indo-Pak dialogue in Islamabad and the Maoists were replying by bullets in the fight in which innocent people were killed.”
CBI has also sent teams to the office and residences of the senior BJP leader in Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad and recorded statements of Shah’s staff but could not locate him.
The probing agency tightened the noose around Shah, who has been named as an accused along with 14 others including some IPS officers in the chargesheet.
Shah has been listed as accused number 13 and the chargesheet notes he has not been arrested.
A CBI statement said the 15 accused were booked in the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and for brutally killing his wife. The CBI probe was spread over five states -- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
About the summons to Shah, the statement said, “He did not appear and hence chargesheet was filed without his examination.”
Besides the murder charge, the other charges against all the 15 accused included criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, kidnapping and abducting to murder, extortion and destruction of evidence under various IPC sections.
The CBI is conducting a fresh probe into the 26 November 2005 encounter at the behest of the Supreme Court after questions were raised on the Gujarat police’s investigation. Sheikh, an alleged gangster, was killed in an alleged fake encounter by Gujarat police.
The accused included IPS officers Abhay Chudasama, DB Vanzara, Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandian and eight other policemen. All of them are under arrest.
“Yes, we have sent teams,” CBI sources said but avoided a direct reply when asked whether teams have been sent to arrest Shah.