The Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) say that Sambia (Tausif) Sohrab, son of TMC leader Mohammed Sohrab, rammed his Audi Q7 SUV into Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud outside Fort William, Kolkata on 13 January as part of a planned conspiracy. It was an act of high treason and the driver should be charged accordingly, lawyers representing the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will plead in court even if the Kolkata Police only charge the driver with murder alone.
“The driver should not get any opportunity to get away. From whatever evidence we have collected so far, he was fully aware of the reasons for which the road was blocked. He also knew that military contingents would be rehearsing for the Republic Day Parade on Red Road. Despite his knowledge, he smashed into barricades and sped towards the gathering of officers and soldiers. This clearly reveals his intent. We have mentioned all this in the FIR,” a senior MoD officer said.
According to an official in Delhi, both the IAF and the Army are still not too sure that the prosecution will put in all efforts to ensure that Corporal Gaud’s family gets justice. At least, the attitude of the police in the first few days after the incident has not given them any confidence. Though the MoD has been claiming from the start that there was only one occupant in the vehicle, the Kolkata Police has not yet made any official statement confirming this.
“The FIR also mentions how officers and other personnel made an extreme effort to stop the SUV. The driver, however, swerved towards them in a threatening manner. All of this points to a planned conspiracy to cause as much harm as possible to military personnel performing their duties,” the officer added.
Another officer who witnessed the entire episode sheds more light. A traffic constable tried to stop Sambia Sohrab as he tried to enter the prohibited zone. Had the driver not had intentions to cause death, he would have never crossed the barrier by force. Even had he done so on impulse, he would have slowed down or stopped on seeing so much activity ahead, the officer said.
An Audi SUV associated with the sons of a Trinamul leader, Mohammed Sohrab, breached multiple barriers at the doorstep of Fort William, Kolkata and flung to death an Air Force Corporal, instructing a contingent rehearsing for the Republic Day parade at daybreak. Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud, who hailed from Surat in Gujarat and traced his roots to Uttar Pradesh, was only 21. He was serving his first post at Kalaikunda after joining the Air Force a year-and-a-half ago, and was planning to build a house at his native place in Gorakhpur, UP.
The Audi Q7 is registered in the name of a company called Mussadi Business Pvt Ltd. According to the Registrar of Companies, Ambia Sohrab is an additional director and Tousif Sohrab, also known as Sambia, is a director of the company. Ambia and Sambia are the sons of Mohammad Sohrab, a Trinamul leader and a former legislator elected on a ticket from Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal with Left support. Sohrab senior is said to wield considerable clout in Burrabazar, Kolkata’s business hub.
The SUV eventually stopped 200 metres away. But the occupants of the car slipped away – an inexplicable feat on the flat and vast terrain that offers few hiding places and with the nearest available vehicles 400 metres away as traffic was restricted for the annual parade rehearsal.
The police blamed fog but once the political connection of the SUV emerged, there were murmurs that the suspects were allowed to walk away. The SUV and its unidentified occupants had a free run for nearly a kilometre, challenged only by guardrails that were tossed away like matchsticks under high-velocity impact.
An arrest warrant has been issued against Mohammed Sohrab, but he and his elder son Ambia Sohrab (in whose name the Audi is registered) are still absconding. Kolkata police believe the duo is trying to cross over to Bangladesh. 3 days after the gruesome murder, police finally managed to arrest Sambia Sohrab and 2 of his friends, Shahnawaz Khan & ‘Johnny’ (full name not yet revealed by police), who are also believed to be part of the conspiracy.
The three arrested have been booked under IPC sections 120(B) (criminal conspiracy), 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 212 (harbouring offender) and 427 (mischief causing damage).
Ambia Sohrab and his brother Sambia have had run ins with the law before, and are known to flaunt their father’s ‘connections’. “My father is an ex-MLA and now a Trinamool leader. Think of the consequences before you even touch me,” threatened Ambia Sohrab to a bouncer who tried to ask him why he landed a punch on the manager’s face who was refusing him and his friends entry into a Kolkata discotheque in December 2015. A day after his father’s victory in the 2006 West Bengal assembly elections, Ambia slapped a traffic cop after flouting traffic norms. He was detained, but was let off after a few hours.
Ambia Sohrab’s friends include sons of several noted political leaders. One of his close friends is Kadir Khan, the gym instructor who was the prime accused in the Park Street rape case. Khan is still absconding.