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MAGAZINE | JUL 15, 2013
ISHRAT JAHAN: CBI VS IB
Hear Them Skeletons In The Bureau?
Was it just in the line of duty or did the IB in Gujarat overreach its mandated brief?
UTTAM SENGUPTA , R.K. MISRA
As much as Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and his right-hand man Amit Shah, India’s shadowy internal spy agency is feeling the heat following the CBI’s chargesheet in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. For the politicians, the fat will be in the fire only if the IB officers choose to squeal. The world’s oldest intelligence agency is neck-deep in the quagmire. For the first time, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) stands formally accused of criminal conspiracy, abduction, planting of evidence and, worse, plain, cold-blooded murder. Whether the charges remain confined to a small group of individual officers, who will then stand trial in their individual capacity, or whether it snowballs into a scandal involving IB as an institution, will become clearer in the coming weeks and following the supplementary chargesheet that the CBI has undertaken to file on July 26 in the case.
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com | Hear Them Skeletons In The Bureau? http://www. The CBI is clearly anxious to arrest them for “custodial interrogation” but has refrained from making a public pitch. alias Javed Sheikh. has so far stonewalled the CBI investigation and refused to share information with the investigators. The chargesheet also names three other IB officials. more pertinently. July 7. It also has credible information that Sheikh was the “handler” for the other two “terrorists” gunned down with him.aspx?286682 The IB. the former dib hinted that spy agencies are forced to carry out unpleasant duties in the line of duty. which claims the IB asked Javed Sheikh to reach Ahmedabad.” Arvind Verma. Period. What the CBI does claim to have is evidence to show that one of the alleged terrorists.L.com/printarticle. “Strictly speaking. On the only occasion when one of its seniormost officers. however. What the CBI claims to have is evidence that Javed Sheikh was in touch with IB.” a former IB director told Outlook. It also says that they were picked up by his men. He did not remember the finer details. particularly with Kumar.outlookindia. with Rajinder Kumar long before he was abducted and gunned down. he’s at one remove from being an accused. was questioned by the CBI in June 2013. suspects he was an informer.www. “IB has a well-structured process of documenting every bit of information and keeping full records of every transaction. Why would he get involved in a fake encounter.outlookindia. special director (IB). and he himself interrogated the four alleged terrorists in the custody of Gujarat police and subsequently took an active part in staging the fake encounter and helping the state police plant firearms on the dead bodies. fuming. Which is why the CBI is wary of naming the IB officials among the accused. told Outlook. names Kumar as the person who ordered the abduction of Ishrat Jahan and Javed Sheikh. what would he have to gain? Speaking on condition of anonymity.” he went on to add. US. Rajinder Kumar. he reportedly claimed that his job ended when he shared the “input” (that “terrorists” were travelling to Ahmedabad to assassinate the Gujarat chief minister) with the police. As it stands. The agency. “Evidence against Kumar is fabricated. Singhal (right) during a reconstruction of the Ishrat Jahan 2 of 5 6/7/2013 1:14 AM . which was set up by the colonial-era regime in 1887.” But it is not willing to cooperate with the CBI or allowing it access to records dating back to 2004 and pertaining to the encounter. The preliminary chargesheet. a former IPS officer now teaching in Indiana University. “everything the IB does is illegal. 2011: Police officers T arun Barot (holding revolver) and G. was actually in touch with the IB and. Pranesh Pillai.
“As far as I know. was fake. On the other hand. which appears to be the case. but within a legal framework. there is no easy answer although sources close to the investigators speculate that it is possible that their cover was blown and they were no longer useful to the IB. The commission’s recommendations. he would have known that the encounter. it observes that the finest intelligence agencies in the world operate in secrecy. Since the IB is not a legal entity. The claim opens up the possibility that the fact or fiction of an IB input was generated as an afterthought. then it would mean that he was acting on his own. Kulkarni.www. the IB at best furnishes information and “nothing more”. It is for the state police to act on it (or not) after verifying the IB inputs. have never been acted upon by successive governments.B. he felt.P. But did Kumar have a personal agenda? “If it is proved that he was physically present at the scene during the encounter.com/printarticle. police etc. “That Kumar was close to the chief minister was not exactly a state secret here and people still remember the warm send-off Modi gave him in 2005. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. “What is dangerous is there are elements in bureaucracy. Any decision to prosecute him or not will depend on whether the agency has such evidence. with the next 3 of 5 6/7/2013 1:14 AM . why can’t India? The PIL also questions the use of secret funds by the IB.N. (Photograph by PTI) In short.aspx?286682 encounter by the SIT. was on the Gujarat police to verify the inputs. But still.” he asserts. While the government describes it as a civilian organisation. the IB is open to abuse. Moreover. It alleges that IB has at its disposal sums running up to `100 crore under secret funds.outlookindia. as the Shah Commission of inquiry had emphasised when it was appointed to look into Emergency excesses in 1977. Filed by former IB officer R. “Intelligence. Did he send a report of his interrogation to the IB headquarters? If he did not. got Kumar posted to Ahmedabad following Modi’s request. it is manned largely by police officers and acts somewhat as a police organisation. an officer working for it cannot be hauled up for catering incorrect or false information. 2004. the three alleged terrorists were agents or double agents.” Vrinda The CBI’s contention in the preliminary chargesheet that Rajinder Kumar knew that Grover.” he told them. including the United States. The onus. Why then would the IB decide to eliminate them? Once again. however. Advani.” says a former CBI director.outlookindia. L. In the absence of any statute. Sreekumar. encounter says that the then Joint Police Commissioner P.K. a claim he reiterated when a PUCL team called on him. an IB officer cannot be chargesheeted for providing wrong/false information. Lawyer For Ishrat’s Mother the four alleged terrorists were alive and in the custody of the Gujarat police and that he had interrogated them raises yet another question. It asks: if other countries. Whatever be the final outcome. which amount was being put to ‘bizarre’ uses.” The insinuation is that Kumar allowed the Gujarat police to stage the encounter to claim credit for foiling a terror attack and the CM to make some political capital. can have statutes guiding their agencies. The case has been dragging in the court for the past two years. says former Gujarat ADGP (intelligence) R. need not always come from “official sources”. his liability will be that of a private citizen. A PIL questioning the legally grey status of the IB is also pending before the Karnataka High Court. Pandey had received intelligence from his “personal” and “private” sources about terrorists proceeding in a blue Indica to Ahmedabad. why kill them? This is the point where Rajinder Kumar’s role gets even more intriguing. with their own vision of India at variance with the Constitution. the controversy has served to highlight the fact that the IB does not work under any statute or legal framework. he added.com | Hear Them Skeletons In The Bureau? http://www. if he did interrogate the alleged terrorists “officially” and recorded it. The IB official. Sreekumar told a TV interviewer that the then home minister. touted as a ‘spontaneous’ field event. became friendly with Narendra Modi when the latter was a BJP general secretary and Kumar was overseeing IB operations in Punjab. A glaring discrepancy is that the FIR after the June 15. it would seem.
K. especially in a case monitored by the judiciary. was unlikely. The two agencies admit to ‘bad blood’ between them and blame each other for the “The chargesheet hides more than it reveals. But the agency is believed to have told the MHA that it would not be possible for it to gloss over the evidence it already has on record. which includes the leader of the opposition and which meets once every three months to review the working of the IB. The duel rages on. The CBI has been under pressure to leave the IB alone. *** Why The BJP Defence Does Not Wash 4 of 5 6/7/2013 1:14 AM . works on trust and in national interest and it would demoralise the cadre if they were hounded for generating intelligence. R.com/printarticle. However. in May this year. The CBI sympathisers scoff at such claims and question whether the IB can ride roughshod over due process and take the law into its own hands in the name of statecraft and national security. it came to nothing. did try to broker peace between the two agencies. Agency insiders admit there was enormous pressure on them to let Kumar off the hook. But in the face of media frenzy.www. and there is already an oversight committee. they hinted.aspx?286682 hearing due in August.outlookindia. Singh. Political pressures have been at work and the masterminds have been left alone. with neither opponent willing to back off. its expenditure. say its apologists. a quiet burial. barring the secret funds.outlookindia.com | Hear Them Skeletons In The Bureau? http://www. and the outgoing home secretary.” Mukul Sinha. While the present IB director. the Union of India filed an affidavit to claim that the IB’s operations as a wing of the MHA was constitutional because its budget is voted by Parliament. is audited. Lawyer For Javed Sheikh’s Father current impasse. selective leaks and the close watch kept by the court. Asif Ibrahim. The IB.
correct or to be taken as evidence. BJP cites David Headley telling FBI that she was a suicide bomber In reply to an RTI query from NCP leader Rauf Lala. acknowledging her terror links In a second affidavit. there are many questions for which it has no answers BJP points to the LeT website endorsing Ishrat Jahan’s terror links after June 15. Gujarat police. The clarification was accepted by the Gujarat High Court. BJP maintains that the encounter was genuine and that the accused are innocent till found guilty by court The party’s stand is at variance with its position on fake encounters in other states where it has demanded the resignation of chief ministers. it holds. and why 12 policemen implicated superiors for the fake encounter BJP says with CBI holding it a joint operation of the IB and the police. Misra in Gandhinagar Click here to see the article in its standard web format 5 of 5 6/7/2013 1:14 AM . acted on inputs given by IB under a UPA government. It is hard put to explain why an ADGP rank officer is absconding. BJP denies the encounter was fake. Singhal.aspx?286682 While BJP questions CBI credibility and has put up a brave face to defend the Ishrat Jahan encounter. It has instead fallen back on the LeT website owning Ishrat as one of its own after the encounter.com | Hear Them Skeletons In The Bureau? http://www.L. the Ministry of Home Affairs clarified that intelligence inputs were not always conclusive.K. SIT and a judicial magistrate. BJP mentions an affidavit filed by the MHA in 2009 before the Gujarat High Court. why another IPS officer.outlookindia. National Investigation Agency (NIA) said David Headley had made no mention of Ishrat Jahan to them. it is yet to reveal them.www. 2004 If the Gujarat police has any proof of her terror links before the encounter in June 2004. G. The MHA and IB have taken the stand that the latter had passed on the input to the state police and the encounter was carried out by the latter with rogue elements within the IB. It is also questioning the findings of the CBI. By Uttam Sengupta in Delhi and R. has virtually turned approver.outlookindia.com/printarticle. MHA needs to explain what happened.
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