New Delhi- Main opposition party BJP’s allegation of CBI working under political pressure got weight when a new charge sheet in Ishrat Jahan Fake encounter case did not mention Gujarat ex. Home Minister Amit Shah, a right hand of Modi and his points man in U.P. However in spite of stiff objections from IB, a former senior officer of the agency is named accused under stringent clauses of CrPC. Indian Express reported:
Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case: CBI charges former IB officer with murder, leaves out Amit Shah
Escalating its confrontation with the Intelligence Bureau in the 2004Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the CBI on Thursday charged former topIB official Rajinder Kumar with murder and criminal conspiracy.
The CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet against Kumar, who was the IB’s special director, and three other IB officers without waiting for the opinion of the Attorney General on whether it needed government approval to prosecute them. But it left out Amit Shah, Gujarat’s then minister of state for home and a close aide of Narendra Modi, who was suspected to have played a role in the case. Shah’s exclusion is expected to come as a big relief to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections as he is a party general secretary and Modi’s pointsman in Uttar Pradesh.
A 1979-batch IPS officer who retired last year, Kumar has been charged under sections 302 (murder), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 364 (kidnapping in order to murder), 346, 364 and 368 (wrongful confinement) of IPC, besides sections 3, 25 (A) and 29 of the Arms Act.
His former colleagues T Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede have also been charged with the same crimes barring murder. The CBI has accused the intelligence officers of conspiring to eliminate 19-year-old Ishrat and the three alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives who were with her, kidnapping them and holding them in illegal confinement before they were killed.
Kumar is named as the main accused in the supplementary chargesheet, which runs into more than 200 pages. It says he was instrumental in getting three of the four victims abducted, illegally confined at Khodiyar Farm on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and killed in the encounter. It also alleges Kumar supplied arms and ammunition for the crime to another accused IPS officer, Girish Singhal, to be handed over to deputy SP Tarun Barot. The chargesheet was submitted in the CBI court of H S Khutwad and the CBI counsel, Ejaz Khan informed the court it was a continuation of the first chargesheet filed against seven Gujarat police officers last July.
Khan told the court that apart from the chargesheet against the four IB officers, retired DSP J G Parmar has been charged with giving false evidence since he was the complainant in the original FIR in the case registered by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) against the four killed in the encounter. The CBI alleged that Parmar had concealed the fact that he had kept the car with him in which the four – Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar – were killed in June 2004.
The IB officers had been named in the first chargesheet filed by the CBI but were not called suspects. The agency has said that the alleged fake encounter was jointly executed by the IB and the Gujarat Police. IPS officers D G Vanzara, P P Pandey, Girish Singhal, besides Barot, N K Amin, Parmar and Anaju Chaudhary were named as accused in the first chargesheet.
Ishrat, her friend Javed, Zeeshan and Amjad were killed by Gujarat Police officers on June 15, 2004. The officers claimed they were killed in an encounter and that they were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to kill Modi. However, the CBI has in its main chargesheet said their investigation found nothing to suggest the four had come to kill Modi. Two earlier probes – by a judicial magistrate and by a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Gujarat High Court – had concluded that the encounter was a fake one. The magistrate had said the officers killed the four to get promotions and laurels.
His heart v/s mind
The case, Sinha said, has once again raised the issue of the government giving some legal protection to intelligence officers. “After Punjab counter-terrorism operations too so many police officers went to jail and faced CBI inquiries. Now this is another example of how people were eliminated on the basis of flimsy intelligence inputs. It is for the government to decide how to use the police in sensitive counter-terror operations and what legal recourse can be used to protect them (sic),” Sinha told The Indian Express.
He said the decision to go ahead with the supplementary chargesheet — even as the CBI waits for legal opinion on whether it needed sanction to prosecute the IB officers — was one of the most difficult of his year-long tenure. “The CBI was never in an adversarial position with the IB while scrutinising the evidence and so it was a painful decision. While my heart was not in favour of the decision since they are my colleagues, my mind told me we had to do it. Now the IB may feel the need to be more circumspect while handling such sensitive operations and if they feel so, also revise their SoPs,” he said.
Sinha said there was unanimity among CBI officers that there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove a police conspiracy behind the encounter, hatched “jointly’’ by state police officers and those from the IB working in the state. This was despite the fact that there were no independent witnesses to the crime and that a lot of documentary evidence, telephone records and log books did not reach the CBI.
“The only difference of opinion was on the need for sanction. As director I was convinced we needed legal advice and have informed the Gujarat High Court about the awaited opinion,’’ he said. “Now it is up to the high court to give directions and depending on the legal advice, up to the home ministry to grant sanction if required or deny it.”