Congress, BJP trade barbs as CBI books Kataria

New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) The CBI case against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Gulab Chand Kataria in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh shootout case Wednesday led to war of words between the BJP and the Congress with the former alleging it as a conspiracy by the ruling UPA and the latter questioning the opposition party’s double standards.

“The booking of Kataria is not based on facts. It is a political conspiracy by the UPA to defame our leaders,” BJP president Rajnath Singh told reporters at a news conference here.

“We will fight the case both politically and legally,” he said.

Singh said Wednesday that the party stands behind Kataria and it will “expose the attempts” of the CBI and the Congress both “legally and politically”.

Arun Jaitley, BJP’s leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said the case was part of a “well-planned conspiracy” and “there is not a shred of truthful evidence against him”.

Congress leaders hit back at the BJP.

Home Minister Suhilkumar Shinde said that the BJP always cries foul when there are questions over its leaders.

“Whenever there is question about them, they do this. You have seen the Congress does not do misuse the CBI,” Shinde told reporters here.

Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed wondered how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was terming the CBI charges against Kataria – who was Rajasthan home minister when Sohrabuddin was killed in 2005 – as not correct, while calling the charges against former railways minister P.K. Bansal as “right”.

Bansal had to quit as railways minister last week following allegations that his nephew took a bribe of Rs.90 lakh to fix a post in the plum railway board for an official.

“This is puzzling, that the BJP thinks it is right when the Congress takes action on its own minister for corruption, but when its own people are concerned they say it is witch hunting by the CBI. They should explain,” said Ahmed.

“The CBI has made a certain claim against P.K. Bansal, and the BJP is saying what the CBI says is true, but when it concerns Kataria, then they say something else. I am at a loss to understand this,” he added.

Holding posters and banners mocking the BJP, Delhi Pradesh Youth Congress (DPYC) protestors gathered outside the BJP’s 11, Ashoka Road office in central Delhi and said the BJP was corrupt.

“The BJP is a total corrupt party and they have no right to attack our prime minister, who has such a clean image,” Amit Malik, president of DPYC, told IANS.

Kataria, from Rajasthan, is the second high profile politician to be named in the alleged fake encounter case after former Gujarat home minister Amit Shah, considered close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Besides Kataria, the others summoned by a Mumbai court include Andhra Pradesh Indian Police Service officer N. Balasubramaniam, police inspector Shrinivas Rao, and R.K. Marbles director Vimal Patni.

The developments follow a supplementary chargesheet.

The Supreme Court had Sep 27 last year ordered the sensitive case to be transferred to Maharashtra after the CBI said that witnesses were being threatened and the trial could not be conducted in a free and fair manner in Gujarat.

According to the CBI, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi were allegedly kidnapped by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad from Hyderabad and killed in a “gunfight” near Gandhinagar in November 2005.

A year later, Tulsiram Prajapati, a prime witness to the incident, was allegedly killed in another staged gunfight in Chapri village of Gujarat’s Banaskantha district.

The CBI Tuesday filed murder and conspiracy charges against Kataria, Balasubramanyam and two others in the Sohrabuddin shootout case.

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