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Sohrabuddin fake encounter: Witness says under pressure not to depose before court, threat to life

A key witness, in the alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and Tulsiram Prajapati, sent a letter to the court through his wife on Monday, claiming that pressure was being mounted on him from various quarters and there was threat to his life.

Along with Sohrabuddin and Prajapati, the 40-year-old man, a prosecution witness, was a co-accused in Hamid Lala murder case. He was a close friend of Sohrabuddin and also an inmate of Prajapati in Udaipur central jail till the latter's death in an alleged encounter in December 2006. The CBI had previously summoned the man but said he was not traceable.

On Monday, the 36-year-old wife of the man came before the court to depose as a prosecution witness. After her deposition, she handed over a one-page letter, written in Hindi, and said it had been written by her husband. She told the court that her husband was facing a lot of pressure against deposing before the court.

"The police have registered five false cases against him to put pressure on him. All these recent cases have only been filed to ensure he does not appear as a witness in this case. Rajneta aur police unpe pressure dal rahe hai gawaahi na dene ke liye (Politicians and police are putting pressure on him against deposing in the case). He wants to come and depose but his safety should be assured," she said before the court.

She requested the court that her husband should be brought to court in safe custody and taken back safely as well.

The CBI had earlier told the court that since he was a wanted accused in several cases in Rajasthan, he had not been traceable. He is supposed to depose before the court this week as per the court's schedule.

In the letter addressed to the court and the prosecution, the man said he knew the truth about the alleged encounters and wanted to appear before the court as a witness. He further said he was scared of coming to the court as he feared that he would also be killed in an encounter or will be falsely implicated in a criminal case. He added that this had been the reason for his not coming to court and requested the court to allow him to come before it whenever it was possible for him.

Earlier, a lawyer based in Rajasthan, who had represented Prajapati, had also expressed threat to his life in February and sought protection. The court had then directed the police authorities in Rajasthan to escort him to the court in Mumbai for his deposition.