Home INVESTIGATION The Stalkers

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A-shah

An important covenant in a democracy is that those voted to power shall protect the weak and the vulnerable. That is why when the system fails to protect a Nirbhaya or do justice to a Jessica Lal or protect the children of Nithari, even the most compromising among us take to the streets and demand a reckoning. That is why we collectively called for stricter laws and swifter punishment for crime against women and children in the wake of the brutal Delhi gangrape.
This story is, however, not about the inadequacies of the system or its indifference. It is far more sordid. This story is about the misuse of police machinery and powers of the State by a top minister in the Gujarat government to stalk a young woman from Bangalore, subjecting her to constant surveillance for reasons not immediately apparent.

Gujarat IPS officer G.L. Singhal, who is an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case (Ishrat was killed, along with three others, by Gujarat Police in 2004) and out on bail, has handed over hundreds of recorded telephonic conversations to the CBI revealing how three key wings of the Gujarat Police—the State Intelligence Bureau, also known as CID Intelligence, the Crime Branch and the Anti-Terrorist Squad—misused their powers to stalk an unmarried young woman from Bangalore, who had her parents staying in Gujarat.

The entire surveillance-cum-phone interception operation was mounted in August 2009 on oral orders, without any valid legal authorization, and was meant only to serve the interests of someone whom the then minister of state for home, Amit Shah, addressed as ‘saheb’.

The illegal spying operation in which Singhal has confessed to his key role was initiated on the instructions of Shah sometime in the month of August 2009 and continued for several weeks thereafter. The 267 audio recordings submitted to the CBI primarily contain telephonic conversations between Shah and Singhal, who was at the time posted as SP with ATS. In at least half a dozen conversations, Shah is alluding to his saheb’s acute personal interest in the snooping of the woman. The conversations suggest Shah was passing minute-by-minute details gathered through this snooping operation to his ‘saheb’. A close confidant of Narendra Modi, Shah held his office as Minister of State for Home for seven years between 2003 and 2010. Modi besides being the CM has also been Gujarat’s home minister since October 2001. Shah was arrested in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in 2010 and is out on bail, looking after BJP’s poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
Investigative news portals Gulail and Cobrapost have accessed both the entire set of recordings and the three explosive self-incriminatory statements given by Singhal before the CBI between April and June this year. We also have the 10-page panchnama prepared by the CBI, as the agency took possession of the phone recordings from Singhal. All conversations were recorded by Singhal who at that time was close to Shah. Apparently, it was only after the CBI arrested him in the Ishrat Jahan killing case in February this year that he cracked up and chose to cooperate with the CBI.

To protect the identity of the victim, we have decided to not reveal her name or present location. For the purpose of this story, we call her Madhuri.

Along with Madhuri, a senior IAS officer from Gujarat named Pradeep Sharma was also put on watch, illegally.

“In the latter half of 2009, when I was posted as SP (Operations) in the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) at Ahmedabad, Shri Amit Shah had directed me several times to watch the movements of Shri Pradeep Sharma, who was then posted as Municipal Commissioner, Bhavnagar. He had also asked me to put a watch on a young woman named Madhuri. I had deputed some men of the Crime Branch (as ATS was short of subordinate staff) to follow her, as directed by Shri Amit Shah,” reads Singhal’s statement recorded by the CBI on April 17, 2013, a copy of which is with us. Singhal was released on bail in the last week of May 2013.

On June 9, 2013, Singhal handed over the phone recordings to the CBI. “In furtherance of my statement dated 17.04.2013, I state that I have produced today before you the following: A pen drive containing 267 call recordings in the month of August–September 2009 (beginning 04.08.2009 and ending 10.09.2009) between me and Shri Amit Shah primarily, barring some between me and Shri A.K. Sharma, me and Shri Vaishnav (DySP CID Intelligence), and me and Shri Rajendra Asari (then SP Bhavnagar). These conversations pertain to watching the young woman Madhuri at Ahmedabad and watching Shri Pradeep Sharma.”

In the last paragraph on page 8 of panchnama prepared by the CBI on July 9, 2013, the agency says: “Shri G.L. Singhal informed that these files contain telephonic conversation between him and Shri Amit Shah, the then MoS (Home), Gujarat State in the month of August and September 2009 relating to misuse of the police for extra legal purposes in miscarriage of justice.”
Singhal’s statements and phone recordings are now part of the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case papers.

The tapes indicate that for at least over a month the Gujarat Police apparatus used its sweeping powers to rigorously monitor every private moment, every personal conversation and every daily movement of Madhuri. Singhal has told the CBI that the surveillance was illegal and was carried out only on the oral instructions of Shah. The recordings reveal that Madhuri was tailed even as she visited shopping malls, restaurants, ice-cream parlours, gyms, cinema halls, hotels and airports. She was followed even when she visited her ailing mother in a hospital in Ahmedabad. When she boarded a flight out of Ahmedabad, orders were issued to put cops on the flight so that she was not out of sight even when she was flying. Strict orders were given to closely observe and profile those who met her. Shah was particularly interested in knowing the men she was meeting and whether she was alone or with some man when she checked into a hotel in Ahmedabad. Her phones and that of her family and friends were tapped. Every bit of information was conveyed to Shah in real time, who in turn claimed to be relaying it to his ‘saheb’. Listening to the conversations leaves no doubt that the people involved in the operation knew who this ‘saheb’ was.

Such was the importance attached to the surveillance operation that many senior state police officials were instructed to personally supervise the movements and activities of the woman. Besides Singhal, who was at that time posted as a Superintendent of Police with the ATS, the then IG (Intelligence) A.K. Sharma, the then Deputy SP (CID Intelligence) DB Vaishnav and then DCP (Crime) Abhay Chudasama were some of the other senior officers who were roped in for the operation. At present, Sharma is posted as Joint Commissioner of Crime in Ahmedabad city. While Vaishnav has retired, Chudasama is cooling his heels in jail on charges of stage-managing the Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounter.

The phone recordings in possession of the CBI primarily contain conversations between Singhal and Shah. Some conversations are between Singhal and other state police officers such as A.K. Sharma, Vaishnav and the then Bhavnagar SP Rajendra Asari. All conversations were recorded by Singhal between August 4, 2009 and September 6, 2009.

At many places in the tapes, Shah can be heard complaining that Singhal’s men were not doing a thorough job as ‘saheb’ was obtaining information about her movements from his independent sources and his information network was at times more efficient than that of Shah.

For instance, on August 9, Shah in a panicky call to Singhal said, “I talked to Saheb and he got to know from someone that they did go outside twice. I think our men are not watching properly. They are still there. They went for shopping as well and also moved out along with that boy who came to see her. ”
A little later, Shah again rings up Singhal to say, “Today they are going out for a meal in a hotel. Sahib received a phone about this. So watch out as she is going with someone. It is the boy who is coming to see her. Pay proper attention. The fact is that Saheb gets all the information, so our loopholes might get found out (if our input is late).”
The tapes also reveal that Shah had instructed Singhal to mount surveillance on a senior IAS officer, Pradeep Sharma, and tap his phones to find out if he was meeting with Madhuri—something that Singhal has also admitted before the CBI. Unaware of the existence of these tapes, Sharma had independently filed a writ petitionin the Supreme Court in May 2011 alleging that he was being framed in bogus corruption cases by the Gujarat government and the reason for this was Chief Minister Narendra Modi association with a young woman. I It now emerges from Singhal’s statements and tapes that the name of the woman mentioned by Sharma in his petition is the same as the name of the woman who was kept under watch by Shah and Co. At several places in the tapes, both Shah and Singhal have named the woman leaving no doubt about her identity.
The question then arises whether it is just a co-incidence that the name of the woman Sharma alleges to have been associated with Modi matches with that of the woman put under surveillance. Or, there is something more to it than meets the eye?

In one of the phone recordings, Shah is also heard telling Singhal to put a man, who was meeting Madhuri, behind bars for a period longer than served by former DIG of ATS D.G. Vanzara who has been in jail since 2007 on charges of a slew of fake encounter killings. When the conversation between Shah and Singhal took place, Vanzara had already been in jail for more than two years. What is significant is that within three months of this surveillance operation, Sharma was arrested by the state police on various corruption charges in the wee hours of January 1, 2010.

The disclosures in the Singhal–Shah tapes raise several disturbing questions. Who wanted Madhuri to be watched and why? Why were Madhuri and Sharma snooped around at the same time? Is it a co-incidence that within three months of this snooping, Sharma was arrested on corruption charges?

Why the cops from the ATS, CID Intelligence and the Crime Branch, whose job is to protect the life of ordinary citizens, were used instead to snoop around a woman, who was not wanted in any crime and did not pose any threat to law and order. Not once did any officer involved object to the blatant illegality involved in the surveillance-cum-phone interception operation or expressed displeasure for violating an individual’s privacy. It needs to be remembered that Singhal has clearly stated before the CBI that the entire snooping operation was illegal. The explanation that it was being done for Shah’s ‘saheb’ was a good enough for the top police officials such as Singhal to toe the line. The question is who Shah’s ‘saheb’ was and what were his motives?

The tapes also reveal how phone tapping guidelines as laid down by the Supreme Court in several landmark cases were blatantly violated. It also brings the telecom companies under a cloud, as they willingly obliged the Gujarat Police to tap the phones, without any valid legal orders or written permission.

In his statements, besides accusing politicians like Shah, Singhal has incriminated himself. He has confessed to have played a part in planting arms on the person of Ishrat Jahan and three others. He also disclosed that D.G. Vanzara had told him that the killings of Ishrat Jahan and her associates were cleared by “safed” and “kali” dadhis, the alleged code names that Vanzara had, respectively, for Modi and Shah—a charge which has to be proved in a court of law.

Singhal has also provided a 70-minute audio recording of a meeting held in the office of Gujarat Advocate General Kamal Trivedi and attended by two of Modi’s ministers— Pratapsinh Jadeja (MoS, Law) and Praful Patel (MoS, Home)—and an ex-cabinet minister, Bhupender Chudasama. In the meeting, Singhal and his co-accused in the Ishrat Jahan killing were assured of the best possible legal protection by the State. According to Singhal, expensive encrypted cell phones were purchased and distributed to select government officials like G.C. Murmu (Secretary to Chief Minister), P.P. Pandey (suspended ADG of Gujarat Police and now prime accused in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case), A.K. Sharma (JCP, Ahmedabad city) and Singhal himself, who could then discuss over these secured phone lines the tactics of subverting the investigations into encounter killings.

Singhal has further revealed in detail how he was used to threaten two key prosecution witnesses against Shah in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. The witnesses were threatened in the presence of Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, a senior member of the ruling party and a former minister. Thus reads his statement given to the CBI on April 17, 20013,“Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama had stated that he had directions from the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi for these two witnesses to turn hostile, in lieu of which he had stated that the Chief Minister had promised all protection and immunity”.

Since people like Shah and Chudasama constantly reassured him that their actions had Modi’s blessings, Singhal indulged in various illegal activities. Says Singhal in his statement to the CBI, “I restate the fact that previously I had been coerced to participate in and help in certain activities intended to obstruct the process of law. Although illegal, unethical and improper, I had not declined to follow instructions because I was under a cloud in this case and Shri Amit Shah used to wield his authority by making it appear that I and my subordinate officers were being protected from incarceration by his and the Chief Minister’s efforts. At this point of time, Gulail and Cobrapost have no means to independently verify these charges.

Whether Singhal’s statements and evidence stand the scrutiny of the courts or not, they nonetheless reveal a chilling modus operandi of the Modi regime. Officers like Singhal who were willing to do all the dirty work would take instructions from Shah who would freely use Modi’s name and mandate them to indulge in all kinds of criminal activities. The question arises was all this happening without Modi’s knowledge? Is Madhuri the only private citizen to have fallen victim to the state’s secret surveillance? How many more people—political opponents, human rights activists, journalists, witnesses, police officers—have been snooped around? One also wonders how did the snooping operation on Madhuri end? Why did Singhal record his conversations with Shah for just over a month and not beyond that? How the information procured about her was put to use?

This is a closet that only opens from the inside. Singhal has cranked it open, but just a bit. Perhaps, the full scale of illegal snooping that may have gone on for years in Gujarat will never be fully known.
Ashish Khetan is Editor, Gulail.com

Raja Chowdhury is a Senior Correspondent with Cobrapost.com

 

How the media responded to the Gulail Investigation :- 

71 COMMENTS

  1. On the article….

    More your target Modi..More he will rise.
    More you Target Modi..More we will support Him.
    More you target Modi..More we will become Hard.
    More you target MoDi..Moe we will bring votes.

    Instead do something for your exchequer Khangress…Congress. & Rahulji Gandhiji.

    • Because you are blind. It is because of your blind and stupid faith people of India will suffer. You will learn it when he is going to misuse his power against you and till then keep dreaming.

      • its you who are blind,can’t see above muslim being killed in Roits,talk about Godhra train massacre done by muslims.

        I will support the man & party who believes in development & not the dynastic political family who believes that its their birth right to rule this country & making this country backward,people beggar.only to achieve political goals they will cross the security of entire nation,sucking the nations wealth,then claiming that nations natural wealth 1st hand is of Muslims.

        Minority vote bank politics have done enough.Now time for Majority vote & development politics.

        Jai Shree Ram
        Vande Mataram
        Jai Hind.

  2. Are Ashish khetan saab zindagi meing kutch kar nahin paye tu lage publicity dudhne through nonsense news…Stop fearing from congress & have mountain dew Kyonki darr ke age zeet hai….
    Complete nonsense news….

  3. great job of Gulail team specially Ashish Bhai, is desh me secular forces is qadar nakara ho gayee hai ki itne saboot hone ke bawjood hatyare uttar pradesh me prachar me ghoom rahe hai hazaro hazar dalit adiwasi is us nam par muslim yuwak atankwadi ka thappa lagaye jelo me sad rahe hai IM aur Modi and Shah jaise logo ke liye is desh me koii jagah nahi honi chhaaiye. behtar hoke inko joote lagaye jaye jaha mil jaye.chunao me jeetne ki baat to door. lekin bhala ho chunawi medhak banke farzi secular hone ka dhong karne wali woh partiya jo aisi taqato ko badhawa dekar hamare mulk ki salamti ko todnaa chaahti hai awam ko sadko per utar jana chahaiye.

    • Stop thinking like a Muslim. I am a girl but not offended at all. Even if my father won’t authorise this, If I am doing something illegal or started acting like a slut as most of the girls are. What the hell are u guys ( Idiots from Gulail n Cobra ) trying to do?

      • You seem to be a woman of low intelligence. I am sure every sensible girl will be offended by this kind of a stalking. How would you feel if a man follows you all the time? This is invasion of privacy and highly unacceptable. Someone’s private life is not up for scrutiny by anyone unless it threatens national security. Further i am appalled by your thought that ‘most of the girls are sluts’. Staying in a hotel won’t make anyone a slut. There are so many working women in India and you as a ‘girl’ must respect other ‘women’.

    • This is Cogress funded website and this gulel.com is paid by Congress All the time these come up only the Issues Against BJP,
      Asish Always come on NDTV(Congress paid channel) None other New channel ,and Now Congress Do not have any way to Encounter Modi So Now they Started Doing this kind of Things.Shame

    • how gulail.com got tapes is not important. the important is blatant misuse of officials by govt of gujrat. with such revelations, we can certainly believe that such people might have infact ordered for fake encounters.

      • its not important that how the tapes are obtained , main thing is that the missuse of power is exposed. Its like that you caught a corrupt politician or officer on a hidden camera inside his/her house and when you expose it to police or media , then people(even though all those will say that we are against corruption) starting blame on you that why you used illegal way to capture crime ?

        I believe that using an illegal way by an investigation agency or public for capturing a crime is not bad.

  4. Gulail’s contention word by word is correct. Since from 1947, with ulterior motive Sanghi Terrorists used to labeled Muslims as the anti Indian and favourable to Pak, though the contribution of the Muslims for the Independence of India can not be ruled out. After March 1993 that theory changed and gradually pick up mileage to labelled every Muslims as the terrorists. If anybody speaks the truth like Gulail labelled as the supporter of terrorists. Police, ATS and other intelligence agencies including the media especially electronic played important roles to tarnish the image of Muslims and those who are involved in speaking the truth or tried to bring the correct picture of the incidents. But since last 3 to 4 years things are changing. I was the first person dared to bring the incident of Malegaon, Aurangabad, Beed, Parbhani, Nanded Blast, to the notice of Govt. of India and Maharashtra, and asked the duo that is the work of Sanghi Terrorists and not Muslims, resulting loss of my permanent job and several atrocities during the course of job, because of speaking truth. It is good indication that more people are joining the fact without any fear.

    • the way your easily said Sanghi terrorists even without any proofs,no support from hindus..same you muslims are branded as terrorist even though each n every bomb attack on Hindus is done by muslim , n every time a terrorists is a muslim.

      About your contribution for Independence,your muslim brothers killed lakhs of hindus n cut our motherland n took their share..so please don’t repeat such false claims of equality n rights…cz hindus didn’t got a single right in your Pakistan..not even right to live.

      • Mr. Anurag Nay……,
        For your kindest information I am a Hindu and not any lower than you who think you are upholding Hinduism……. I am utterly ashamed that the Sangh Terrorists or rather Rioters, Rapists are bringing bad name to a pure and serene religion like Hinduism……

        Without the Hindu Fanatics India would have been a very peaceful nation….. Many many Hindus & Muslims live peacefully side by side……. But the Parivar keeps spreading venom for political gains………… from even before Freedom…….. They do not want India to be peaceful…….

        Whether you agree or not Indian Muslims are an integral part of India and they have equal contribution in the Freedom Fight……..

        And not every bomb is planted by Muslims…. the Hindu Terrorists have also killed innocent people by planting bombs….. inducing riots……. raping and butchering 1000s of innocent women, children…..

        If Modi comes to power we can forget peace in India….. The VHP, RSS, BD would unleash their evil head and there will be retaliatory bombs and again riots…. them blasts….. God save India……… from these pseudo Hindus who are bringing shame to a beautiful religion like Hinduism…….

        • As a tolerant hindu i second your thoughts, RSS and SIMI are due to each other, if both were missing we would have been a great country and we probably would have Mahatma Gandhi serving our country even after independence.

        • how do we believe that u r a Hindu, at least show some respect to those who were killed in terror attacks done by them, have u ever read your Indian history, who is behind Kashmir problems and what happened there with Hindus and Kashmiri Pandits… Today, all world is suffering from Muslim Terrorists and you behave like a dumbo, who don’t have any knowledge about terror and terrorists…. Indian Muslims are not the integral part of India, they are only the vote bank of CONGRESS, thats why, we are bearing them…. IF VHP, RSS, BD are like terror group then why don’t our government go for banning these groups, why banned groups like SIMI, IM….
          Tell you one thing, those VHP, RSS, BD and others are not a shame to our beautiful religion, but you are a shame for us, who has shame on himself for being a Hindu…..

  5. What a shame ……Mr.Amit is using officer’s like his personal paid employee to spy women on order of his so call saheb (Mr.Modi). Wake up young indian and specially girls/women’s teach this fanatic goons Mr.Amit and Mr.Modi a lesson.

    • very truly said – if these kind of people come into the system just imagine what they will be doing with such authoritarian attitude like that of Hitler, Indian voters will surely keep these animals away from the power center

    • It is normal to take some help from Govt when Boss orders some personal request sub ordinates will follow most rigoriously it is just that It is Congrass Foul game at the end of the days

    • The girl in question should come forward with the truth. She would be doing mammoth service to the nation by bringing the true face of someone who harbors aspirations to lead India. If he is clean he deserves a chance, if not, a great number of Indians who are enamored by modi’s statements and who have blind faith in him should be warned about what can be in store of the nation.

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