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The Year That Was: 2007
Rediff looks back at the highs and lows, the successes and failures, the heroes and villains, the wild and the overblown that made this year.

Anti-heroes

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Who shall guard us from our guardians?

December 17, 2007

Text: Sheela Bhatt

The dreaded Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist was roaming with impunity on Ahmedabad's streets, armed with an AK-47 and cruising on his motorcycle, when he ran into a crack police team led by Gujarat's Deputy Inspector General of Police, Border Range, Dahyabhai G Vanzara.

Vanzara and his team had, by brilliant investigation, run the notorious terrorist down to earth; they did their best to capture him but when their prey cut loose with his automatic assault rifle, the police force had no option but to gun him down.

Good riddance was the general feeling that greeted newspaper accounts of the November 26, 2005 incident; an example, consensus went, of how the no-nonsense Narendra Modi government in Gujarat dealt with anti-nationals.

The story exploded, with all the impact of a time-bomb, in 2007 when investigations indicated that the official account was totally, frighteningly, divorced from the truth.

Investigations revealed that Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and a possible third victim named Tulsiram Prajapati, were intercepted by Anti-Terrorism Squad officers from Gujarat and Rajasthan as the trio were travelling by bus from Hyderabad to Sangli.

They were brought by car to a predetermined point between the toll booths of the Ahmedabad circle and Vishala circle. Here, Vanzara along with Superintendent of Police R K Pandian, Rajasthan Superintendent of Police M N Dinesh Kumar and other officers were waiting. A motorcycle had been procured from the local Anti-Terrorism Squad office.

When the car carrying the trio got to the spot, a constable rode the motorcycle for a bit before jumping off and allowing it to crash. Sheikh was thrown out of the car near the fallen bike; four police inspectors fired eight rounds into his body. On Vanzara's reported orders, Sheikh's body was taken to the nearby civil hospital.

Image: Then Gujarat Deputy Inspector General of Police, Border Range, D G Vanzara at the first Thar Desert Camel Expedition in the Rann of Kutch near the India-Pakistan Border. Photographs: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images
Also read: The journalist who cracked Gujarat fake encounter case
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