Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: Recently when Rajasthan-based gangster and aide of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati deposed in a special court in Mumbai and said that former IPS officer DG Vanzara had instructed the assassination of former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya, it created a flutter amongst the political class and people alike. Even though there is no direct connection between the extra-judicial killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and the Haren Pandya murder, there was something unusual about the statement. Vanzara, in his defense, said that Azam acted under pressure from Gujarat Police. Khan’s statement, no matter how much truth it holds, couldn’t trigger any legal actions in the case as of now. This could also be one of the many tricks attempted at cornering Vanzara. But with time, this trap might entangle much more other than just Vanzara.

Chatter says that Khan went perfectly by the script prepared by the CBI officials, lawyers, and even the judge. All major accused have been acquitted and most of the witnesses have begun turning hostile in this case, which is moving into the same direction as that of Haren Pandya’s murder and the fact that who had killed Sohrabuddin and Tulsiram and the reason behind it would remain a secret forever. The judge would regularly instruct the witnesses to desist talking anything outside the case while deposing, but surprisingly Khan was not stopped from talking about Haren Pandya.

Khan made in total five statements in front of the judge and nowhere in it did he speak about Haren Pandya. In his witness statement, he had named Abhay Chudasma, Rajkumar Pandian and other top cops, but this time he began talking about a case which is not at all connected to the current hearing. Surprisingly, the CBI prosecutor didn’t even try to raise an objection against Khan for misleading the court.

Let’s understand why Vanzara’s name has been dragged in again and the internal tussle in Gujarat Police which made it happen. The governments before 2001 in Gujarat would put their favourite IAS and IPS officers in plum posts. And the ones whom they disliked would be dumped into non-executive posts. But after 2002, the governments would start digging out old cases against cops that didn’t toe the line of their political bosses and begun harassing them with legal cases against them.

The list of government’s favourite police officials began to swell; most of them have retired by now. Amongst them were Abhay Chudasma, Rajkumar Pandian and DG Vanzara. Vanzara was the senior-most amongst the three. All of them are doing very well in their lives as of now. But those, who didn’t take orders from their mighty bosses like Satish Verma, Rahul Sharma, Kuldeep Sharma, and Rajnish Rai were regularly given side postings and the government ensured that their harassment never stopped. Many officials who were regularly harassed by the government realized that in order to fall in the good books of the government, they should be in good terms with those officials who are close to the government.

When the case of fake encounters in Gujarat made headlines, the police officials who were not liked by the government, worked doubly hard to ensure that the cops who were involved in the extra-judicial killings were sent behind bars. As a result, despite having very few cases of fake encounters in the state, each one of them made noise at the national level and attracted great attention towards it. The police force was split into two factions. The ones who were close to the government were in a race of their own to see who amongst them were closest to their political bosses. The fiercest competition was between Abhay Chudasma and his senior DG Vanzara. Chudasma wanted to one-up his senior, but Vanzara was no newbie to the politics in play. It looked like a game of chess where both players were trying to checkmate each other.

It is a well-known fact that Vanzara revered Asaram Bapu, a Gujarat based seer now lodged in jail. In 2013 when the BJP was deciding on the name for their PM candidate, the national committee wanted to cross out Narendra Modi’s name from the list. This move was engineered by LK Advani. Asaram decided to help Advani out in this game and instructed his disciple Vanzara to write a letter from jail accusing Modi and Amit Shah for the encounters that had taken place. But the plan fell flat on its face, Modi was named as the PM candidate and eventually went on to win the coveted post, while Asaram was sent packing to prison. As a result, Vanzara, once the government’s favourite cop, fell out of the list. Even though he was acquitted in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case along with the other accused, the government ensured that a sword remained suspended over his head in the form of Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal fake encounter cases.

Vanzara now tries everything to increase the difficulties of the BJP, but the party hit back using Azam Khan. Khan’s statement might have given a minor scare to Vanzara on what would happen to him if he messes with BJP. But it is still unclear what is it that scares BJP about Vanzara. Currently, Vanzara might be coming in the way of the new faction of cops, which include Gujarat IPS officers Abhay Chudasma, Rajkumar Pandian and Rajasthan’s IPS officer Dinesh MN. Azam Khan’s deposition in the court was a message by CBI to Vanzara that it could implicate him in a case like Haren Pandya’s killing, which was long back dumped into the cold storage.

This is now a game of snakes and ladders where it is to be seen who falls into the mouth of snakes.

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