A special CBI court in Ahmedabad discharged two retired police personnel, Taun Barot and Chhatrasinh Manubala Chudasma, who were accused in the extra judicial killing of Sadiq Jamal Mehtar in 2003. The court of special judge Bharat Ambalal Dave ruled that “there is no ground for presuming that the two accused police personnel have committed an offence under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 341, 242 (wrongful restraint), 364,365 (kidnapping and abduction), 302 (murder) and 114 (abetment) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).”
The discharge order comes months after the special court had discharged two other police officials – RL Mavani and Ajaypalsingh Yadav in the same case in November 2020. Both Mavani and Yadav were accused in criminal conspiracy, adducting in order to murder, murder, and abetment when the charge sheet was filed.
Noticeably, Barot and co accused-Chatrasinh Chudasma had filed a discharged application in October last year through Advocate RS Verma and Advocate Brijrajsinh Jhala respectively. Barot stated in his plea that “he was innocent and being implicated.”
“All the so called statements and documents sought to be deliberately used as incriminating material against the present accused number 8 (Barot) reveal nothing except the visit of the present accused no 8 to Mumbai between 02.01.2003 to 04.01.2003. There is not a single direct statement/ document in the charge sheet which suggests that it was present accused no 8 himself obtained the custody of Sadiq Jamal from Mumbai. In view of this, the charge of the complainant CBI is based on just conjectures and surmises,” read his plea application.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), while opposing Barot’s plea for discharge had stated that, he (Barot), who was then a police inspector at the Crime Branch in Ahmedabad, had left for Mumbai in a official vehicle to take custody of Sadiq Jamal from Mumbai police. The CBI further had stated that Barot had attempted to hide his visit to Mumbai and instead shown his visit to Vadodara and Valsad. The CBI’s investigation had revealed Barot’s Mumbai trip based on vehicles logbook and the statement of the driver.
According to the CBI charge sheet, Sadiq used to work as domestic help at Dawood Ibrahim’s close associate Tariq Parveen’s home in Dubai and Mumbai. Sadiq left Dubai and returned to India after an altercation with Salim Chiplum, Salim’s aide and a Pakistan-based gangster. He was in custody of SIB Mumbai before Gujarat police took custody of him in January 2003.
In 2012, while submitting the first charge sheet in the case against eight police personnel – Tarun Barot, Jaysinh Parmar, IA Siyyed, Kishoresinh Vaghela, Ramji Mavani, Ghanshaymsinh Gohil, Ajaypalsingh Yadav and Chhatrasinh Chudasma, the CBI had submitted that there was circumstantial evidence available to establish Barot’s role in the offence.
The CBI was supposed to file a supplementary charge sheet in the case to bring out the role played by senior police officials. However, eight years later, the CBI is yet to file another charge sheet.
However, Barot who used to be popularly known as ‘encounter specialist’ during his tenure, was named in the CBI charge sheet as one of the primary accused in the case. According to the CBI, he took illegal custody of 19-year-old Sadiq Jamal, a resident of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat, before he was killed in an encounter in Ahmedabad.
Sadiq Jamal was killed on a night in January of 2003 at Naroda near Galaxy cimema in Ahmedabad after an intelligence input was forwarded by the Gujarat police that reportedly linked him to Salim Chiplum, an aide of gangsters Anees Ibrahim (brother of Dawood Ibrahim) and Chhota Shakeel.
The alert, as the Gujarat police claimed, said that the Dubai-based Sadiq had been sent by the Lashkar-e-Toiba to kill then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Viswa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia to avenge the Godhra riots of 2002.
As per the investigation of CBI, Sadiq was apprehended in Mumbai by the Mumbai police and was interrogated by the subsidiary intelligence bureau (SIB) in December 2002. Subsequently, on January 2, 2003, Gujarat police had travelled to Mumbai to take his custody, after which he was brought to Ahmedabad and kept in illegal custody and later killed in a “fake encounter”.
Noticeably, Tarun Barot has been accused in the encounter and killing of five people – four in the Ishrat Jahan case and the Sadiq Jamal case. He got bail in the case of encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others in 2004 on the ground that the agency probing the case could not file a charge sheet within the stipulated time. He got bail in the Sadiq Jamal case in 2015 on personal bond of Rs 1 lakh and on conditions that he will not enter Mumbai and Bhavnagar.
Barot, who joined the Gujarat police services as a sub-inspector in 1984, shot to limelight when he arrested Lal Singh, reportedly a militant of Khalistan movement with huge arms cache from Juhapura area of Ahmedabad in 1992.
He got an out of turn promotion after this, has been awarded with 15 awards and 430 rewards from various state governments and Centre for “outstanding service” during his tenure.
After the encounter cases of Gujarat came under the scanner, Tarun Barot sparked controversy by not just being an accused in multiple encounter cases but asserting in media that his actions were in “national interest” and that he is a “true patriot”.