Jaipur: Union Minister CP Joshi has courted controversy after he was felicitated by the marble lobby in Rajasthan which, a key Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) witness had alleged, paid Rs 10 crore to get Sohrabuddin Sheikh killed.
Video footage available with CNN-IBN shows the minister sharing dais with RK Patni, the owner of RK marbles - the man who allegedly paid money to former Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria to get Sohrabuddin Sheikh eliminated. Sohrabuddin was killed in an alleged fake encounter by Gujarat Police in 2005.
Joshi, who heads the Ministry of Rural Development in the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre, not only shared the dais with Patni, but also praised him during a ceremony organised by Rajasthan's marble lobby to celebrate Joshi's 60th birthday.
On Saturday, CNN-IBN had aired the footage of Azam Khan, who shared a jail cell with Tulsi Prajapati, who allegedly witnessed Sohrabuddin's killing and was later killed in an encounter.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Khan claimed that BJP leader and former Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria was paid Rs 10 crore by RK Marbles to eliminate Sohrabuddin, who was extorting money from the marble traders.
"Tulsi came and told me that RK Marbles had given the money. The money came from Gulab Chand Kataria. Some money was distributed among themselves, rest was taken by Kataria. They said RK Marbles gave Rs 10 crore," Khan told CNN-IBN.
The CBI in its chargesheet last week had said that Sohrabuddin extorted money from marble traders in Udaipur. It is alleged that the marble traders of Udaipur had met Rajasthan police officers and politicians to get Sohrabuddin eliminated.
However, Patni insists that he is innocent.
"I have nothing to do with case. I do not want to comment," says Patni.
With the CBI's attention now turning towards Rajasthan, the Congress-led UPA government may find it difficult to explain why one of its own ministers is so close to a person who is under the scanner.