Former DGP D. G. Vanzara’s, an accused in Ishrat Jehan fake encounter case, wait of nine years to return to his soil ended on Friday as he landed at the Ahmedabad International Airport from Mumbai.
And it was a welcome that would perhaps lessen the pain he underwent during his eight-year stint behind the bars and one year in exile away in Mumbai.
A special CBI court had recently modified the clause that prevented him from entering Gujarat. He is also an accused in Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounters.
Unlike welcomes accorded to politicians, which are generally considered stage-managed, in Vanzara’s case the response seemed spontaneous. He is neither an actor nor a cricketer but for those who turned out at the airport and later on at a civic reception in Gandhinagar Town Hall, he was not less than a hero, perhaps even more than that.
Vanzara was welcomed with a traditional aarti, garlanding, drum beating and dance programmes at the Town Hall.
People queued up in a disciplined manner and greeted 62-year-old Vanzara and his wife Gauriben. There were many who presented him their traditional “paghdis” (traditional headgear). He was also presented a silver sword, which he wielded as he, his wife and brothers danced with greeters to Rajasthani folk songs.
But amid all this, most eye-catching was the presence of state VHP chief Dilip Trivedi, VHP leader Jaideep Patel, representatives of the RSS from Gandhinagar, saints from the Swaminaryan sect, and most important of all, top IPS officer P.P. Pandey. Pandey was Vanzara’s boss in the crime branch when the Ishrat Jehan encounter took place. Pandey, also an accused in Ishrat case and is out on bail, was reinstated by the state government last year.
While Trivedi in his brief speech compared Vanzara with Arjun, Pandey said that he was giving him the title of “Rajrishi” (political sage).
What also caught the attention of the public was salute to Vanzara by three cops in uniform. Inspector L.D. Vaghela, DySP A.B. Vatalia and PI K.M. Priyadarshi saluted the former cop even as the jam packed auditorium applauded.
Had Vanzara’s younger brother K.G. Vanzara, an officer of social welfare department, Gujarat Government, not intervened and curtailed the programme, the stream of greeters would have continued in the felicitation which lasted for over two and a half hours.