CBI court judge in Gujarat’s Sohrabuddin encounter case murdered? Scared family finally speaks up about shocking facts
Brijgopal Harkishan Loya's relatives have questioned the circumstances surrounding the judge’s sudden death and post mortem conducted without their permission, hinting at foul play.
The family of Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, the late CBI court judge who had taken over the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, has come out with shocking revelations and questions.
Loya’s relatives have questioned the circumstances surrounding the judge’s sudden death and post mortem conducted without their permission, hinting at foul play. It’s been three years since the sudden demise of Loya, the CBI special court judge in Mumbai, who had taken over the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was accused.
The trial, if it took place would have put then Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah and several top Gujarat police officers on the stand for the encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi.
Loya died on December 1, 2014, six months after he had taken over the case. The reason for his death was attributed to a heart attack but according to his family, the premise of his death is suspicious. Loya’s family, who hadn’t spoken to the media for a long time fearing for their lives, recently opened up to The Caravan.
Here is a sequence of events surrounding Loya’s death as told to his family:
Brijgopal Hrakishan Loya had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter in Nagpur on 30 November 2014. He was staying at Ravi Bhawan, a VIP guest house.
The Judge’s father, who was in Latur, received a call in the early morning of December 1, 2014, informing him that Brijgopal had passed away and the post-mortem had been conducted. His body had been sent to the ancestral home in Gategaon, in Latur district.
The family was told that the cause of death was a cardiac arrest; that when Loya had chest pain, he was taken to Dande hospital in an autorickshaw. He was later shifted to Meditrana hospital and was declared dead on arrival.
Ishwar Baheti, an RSS worker, had reportedly informed Loya’s father that he would arrange for the body to reach Gategaon, some 30 kilometres from Latur. How the RSS worker came to know of the judge’s death and how he was able to contact the family is one of the questions raised by the family.
The body was delivered at around 11.30 pm and to the family’s shock, none of Loya’s colleagues had accompanied his body on the journey from Nagpur. The only person accompanying the body was the ambulance driver.
Anuradha Biyani, who is Loya’s sister and a medical doctor in government service, recounted that when she saw the body there were bloodstains on the neck at the back of the shirt. She said that she had demanded a second post-mortem, but Loya’s gathered friends and colleagues told them not to complicate the issue more. Tense and scared, the family carried out the judge’s funeral.
Loya’s mobile phone was later returned to the family by RSS worker Ishwar Baheti on the third or fourth day. The phone had been wiped clean. Loya’s family received the phone with all call records, SMSes and whatsapp chats missing.
1. Loya was taken to the hospital in an autorickshaw. - Why wasn’t there any vehicle available in Ravi Bhawan, a VIP guest house, to transport a CBI court judge to the hospital during an emergency?
2. How did Ishwar Baheti, the RSS worker who informed the family that he would arrange Loya’s body to reach Gategaon, know Loya?
3. Why was the family not informed when Loya was taken to the hospital?
4. Why were they not informed as soon as he died?
5. Why were they not asked for approval of a post-mortem, or informed that one was to be performed before the procedure was carried out?
6. Why was the body of a CBI court judge, who was supposed to have security, unaccompanied?
Doubts regarding several other aspects of Loya’s death:
1. There is ambiguity about the precise time of Loya’s death communicated to different family members
2. The post-mortem report mentions “coronary artery insufficiency” as the probable cause of death. However, there is no prior medical history suggesting the possibility of a heart attack.
3. Every page of the post-mortem report is signed by a senior police inspector of Sadar police station, Nagpur, and by someone who signed with the phrase “maiyatacha chulatbhau” meaning paternal cousin brother of the deceased. Family, however, says there is no such person.
4. Condition of clothes is mentioned as ‘dry’ in the post-mortem report. However family says there were bloodstains on the neck at the back of the shirt.
5. As per legal procedure, the police department is expected to collect and seal all the personal belongings of the deceased, list them all in a panchnama and hand them over to the family as they are. However, Loya’s phone was returned not by the police but by Ishwar Baheti and all data from the phone was deleted except a single message saying ‘Sir, stay safe from these people.’ The family also didn’t receive the Panchnama.
6. According to another Caravan report, Loya’s sister Anuradha Biyani, a medical doctor based in Dhule, then chief justice of the Bombay High Court Mohit Shah had offered Loya a bribe of Rs 100 crore, house and land in Mumbai, in return for a favourable judgment and acquiting Amit Shah as soon as possible.
7. Loya reportedly refused the offer which had caused him deep stress.
8. Just 29 days after Loya’s death, Amit Shah, the prime accused in the murder of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi, was discharged from the case.