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Supreme court told about Gujarat panel on shootout deaths

The Supreme Court was told Monday that the Gujarat government has set up a special task force to probe the cases of alleged staged shootout killings and its investigation would be monitored by an authority headed by retired supreme court judge M.B. Shah.

The court was hearing petitions by columnist B.G. Verghese and poet, lyricist and script writer Javed Akhtar seeking Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into 21 cases of alleged staged shootouts between 2003-07.

The apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.P. Desai was told that the state government will also file a report on what it had done so far in respect of these cases.

While Verghese wanted investigations into all the 21 cases, Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Javed Akhtar, sought investigations into cases of alleged staged shootout by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) then headed by D.G. Vanzara.

Vanzara is now in judicial custody for his alleged involvement in the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing.

Akhtar is also seeking a CBI probe into the killing of another person, Sameer Khan, in an alleged staged encounter. “This is one case crying for an independent investigation.

He described the ATS team under Vanzara as a “notorious team”. He said that there was “massive cover up at the instance of the Gujarat chief minister”.

Bhushan told the court that some of the staged shootout cases of the team were under investigation and some were not. There were 21 encounters by this team.

The court directed the next hearing on the petitions in January.


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