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Kidnapped, drugged and murdered, the politics surrounding Ishrat Jahan

Table of contents

The CBI chargesheet


Ishrat Jahan encounter case: Why CBIs chargesheet is a cold potato Ishrat Jahan chargesheet: Why Modi isnt in the clear yet Ishrat Jahan case: CBI makes UPA as answerable as Modi Govt Ishrat Jahan was abducted, drugged, murdered: CBI chargesheet 04 06 07 09

Encounters and more in Gujarat


Ishrat Jahan and the ethics of Indias encounter policies 2002 riots to Ishrat Jahan: How deep is the rot in Gujarat police? Why its hard to dismiss Ishrat killing as a one-off incident 12 15 17

Reactions:
CBI chargesheet: I suspect Modis involvement, says Ishrats sister Ishrat Jahan case: Surprised that IB officer not named in CBI chargesheet, says lawyer Facts are facts, guilty should be punished: Shinde on Ishrat Jahan case Ishrat Jahan case: Modi will soon be exposed, says Congress 20 21 22 23

The run up to the case:


Ishrat Jahan: The inconvenient story no one wants to tell Ishrat Jahans mother alleges attempt to murder her Why the Ishrat Jahan case has no non-toxic ending 25 28 29

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The CBI chargesheet

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Why CBIs chargesheet is a cold potato


The CBIs charge-sheet offers a bare-bones encounter of the encounter in Ahmedabad in which the Mumbra woman and three others were killed. It doesnt tell us why that happened, or name everyone involved. Lots of the truth is still to come.
Praveen Swami Jul 4, 2013

Ishrat Jahan encounter case:

or weeks now, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been awaiting the Central Bureau of Investigations first chargesheet in the Ishrat Jahan murder case with at least as much anxiety as the people who might end up on death row as a consequence. The political implications of the case are huge: it threatens to rock Indias intelligence services to their foundation and could lead to the indictment of high officials in both Gujarat and New Delhi. For both the BJP and the Congress, its almost certain to be a key nationalsecurity related election issue.

may not be Narendra Modi. Full disclosure: I havent read the chargesheet, since the CBI isnt giving out copies. Like others in the media, Im relying on information from government sources and briefings CBI officials have privately given. Lawyers for the accused havent had time to read the charge-sheet either, to offer a response. Read what follows bearing these quite large caveats in mind. In essence, the CBI chargesheet tells a simple story: Ishrat Jahan and her three associates were killed in cold blood by the Gujarat Police. The Intelligence Bureau, it says, led the Gujarat police to Lashkar-e-Taiba fidayeen Zeeshan Johar, presumably in the course of a covert operation. Later, the agency also held his associate, Amjad Ali Rana. Ishrat Jahan and her associate Javed Sheikh earlier known as Pranesh Kumar Pillai were kidnapped on 11 June. Eight police officials have been charged with kidnapping and murder key among them fugitive additional director-general of police Prathvipal Pandey, deputy inspector-general DG Vanzara, deputy superintendents of police Girish Singhal, Tarun Barot and Narhari Amin. In addition, the CBI says Intelligence Bureau officials Rajendra Kumar, the agencys then-station chief in Ahmedabad, and his subordinates MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede, participated in the kidnapping and custodial interrogation of the suspects. The weapons later claimed to have been found from the bodies of the four victimsand use to firm-up the police accusation they were terrorists-were actually sourced from the
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Now the chargesheet is in, my first take is this: for all the sound and fury on television, its a bit of a cold potato. Theres none of the zingy stories which had spiced up some of the juicier reportage on the issue: no taped conversation where conspirators discussed how to save police officers being investigated for murder, and not even a hint of anyone with a white beard, whose name may or

Intelligence Bureau, it says. The chargesheet doesnt, however, explain why these men havent been charged with any crime-although the CBI has said it does intend to investigate them further. For that to happen, though, the CBI will have to gather Intelligence Bureau documents and interrogate top officialsamong them, then-Intelligence Bureau operations chief Nehchal Sandhu, who is now deputy national security advisor and then-Intelligence Bureau chief KP Singh, now Governor. The union government had filed an affidavit in 2007 saying the encounter was legitimate, and then backed out; itll have to explain on what basis it arrived at that first determination. It isnt clear if the CBI has managed to fill in some key gaps-for example, finding a pistol it says was used to kill the accused. It has, however, relied on some 22 statements from witnesses, a substantial body of evidence to compensate for the fact that forensic investigations by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory didnt establish the shootout was faked. Perhaps as important, the CBI chargesheet doesnt say why this massive conspiracy was

constructed, choosing to elide over the question of Ishrat Jahan and the other three were terrorists or not. The core elements of this story arent new. In September 2009, metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang concluded much the same in a report Firstpost is putting online today. The Gujarat High Court later slammed Tamang for showing undue haste in concluding the inquiry without taking assistance of the experts, it did think hed found enough to warrant an investigation by the special investigation team. That team, in turn, proved fractious, with members filing complaints against each other-but did find enough to persuade the court to order a CBI investigation. Its impossible to say how robust these charges will eventually prove to be in court: case after case, in the past, has drowned after witnesses who said one thing later changed their mind. The CBI has a record of getting controversial cases right, but an equally long one of botching major cases. Nine years after that encounter, theres still likely plenty of things waiting to be found out and told.

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Ishrat Jahan chargesheet:


Why Modi isnt in the clear yet
The BJPs campaign chief is reportedly watching for the CBIs supplementary charge sheet in the case.
FP Politics Jul 4, 2013 he CBIs charge sheet in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case may have stayed away from mentioning the Gujarat political leadership, but this doesnt mean that Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his former deputy and then home minister Amit Shah are in the clear.

sheet reportedly stems from the fact that the CBI is continuing to investigate Intelligence Bureau officials who are charged not only with providing weapons but also illegally confining Ishrat Jahan and a companion before killing them. The CBI in its charge sheet yesterday charged eight police officials with kidnapping and murder key among them were fugitive additional director-general of police Prathvipal Pandey, deputy inspector-general DG Vanzara, and deputy superintendents of police Girish Singhal, Tarun Barot and Narhari Amin. Rajender Kumars name may not have found mention in the first charge sheet but is likely to find mention in supplementary charge sheet to be filed by the CBI.

As the Gujarat Chief Minister meets with the BJPs parliamentary board and is likely to unveil the partys campaign committee today, he will perhaps be mindful of the supplementary charge sheet that is likely to be filed by the CBI in the case, particularly since it will have to do with Rajender Kumar, special director of the Intelligence Bureau . The BJP leader will reportedly be keeping an eye on the supplementary chargesheet that is expected to be filed by the end of the month and could time his political strategy, especially a nationwide tour accordingly, the Hindustan Times reported citing BJP sources. Modis worry over the supplementary charge

The Times of India reports that Kumar was reportedly known to the Gujarat Chief Minister, and their association stretched back to the 1990s when Modi was deputed to Himachal Pradesh. The report states that Kumar was transferred to Gujarat thanks to a request placed by Modi to the Home Ministry, while the BJP was in power and LK Advani was Home Minister. The Gujarat Chief Ministers involvement in the scandal may not have gone beyond conjecture so far, with theories of a white beard giving the orders for the killing. But as Firstposts Praveen Swami pointed out it is impossible to say how robust the charges will prove to be in a court of law.

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UPA as answerable as Modi Govt


If the conflict between the IB and the CBI is allowed to escalate further, then it can have major implications on the countrys fight against terrorists.
Sanjay Singh Jul 3, 2013 he CBI has called the Ishrat Jahan encounter case murder in cold blood and charged five Gujarat police officers with abduction, illegal confinement and murder of four persons. But the issue is not over yet. The investigative agency has kept the political pot boiling by promising to soon file a supplementary chargesheet to highlight the criminal conspiracy angle. It might point to the involvement of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers in the case.

Ishrat Jahan case: CBI makes

had hatched a plot to kill Narendra Modi, nor has it detailed the antecedents of Ishrat Jahan and others. The CBI says that its not their case whether two of the four were Pakistanis and Javed Shaikh and Ishrat Jahan were terrorists; their focus was whether or not the encounter was fake. As for the question whether Ishrat was a terrorist or a terror operatives mole, other intelligence agencies and not the CBI are better equipped to answer. The IB had generated the alert, the Lashkar-e-Taiba mouthpiece had called her a martyr and the Union government had substantiated that in the first affidavit. But things changed subsequently. The CBI officers on this case believe that the IB generated a fake alert with the purpose to kill, but the question still remains what would the then station head of the IB, Rajinder Kumar, have gained out of the fake report and killing of Ishrat Jahan. If the IB Gujarat station head was directing that fake encounter or murder then what was the IB headquarters in New Delhi doing? The case is not as simple as the CBI would like others to believe. Had it been a simple murder case, it would not have consumed hours of air time, tons of newsprint and extensive debates at public forums and private lounges. By calling it a joint operation, the CBI has made, consciously or by default, the Congress-led UPA government as answerable as the Modi government. On 15 June, 2004, the Manmohan Singh government was firmly in place at the Centre and Shivraj Patil was the Home Minister. The IB works directly under the Ministry of Home Affair and gives a daily report to the Home minister and the National Security Advisor in the PMO. The IB headquarters is located
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The IBs Special Director, Rajinder Kumar, whose name figures in the CBIs charge sheet filed on Wdnesday though not as accused, ostensibly due to protests from the Ministry of Home Affairs retires on 31 July. The CBI will technically not require sanction from the ministry to prosecute him after the date. For now, the CBI has called the fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan, Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Shaikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar (last two from Pakistan) as a joint operation of the IB and Gujarat Police where the arms and ammunitions supposedly planted on the bodies of those killed came from the IB offices. The CBI has not reflected on whether the four

on the first floor in the MHA, same as the office of the Home minister. It indicates the primacy that the IB enjoys in the functioning of the MHA. Besides doing a written and oral briefing to the Home Minister, a copy of all important reports are also marked for the Prime Minister, a former IB officer said. The Home Minister would surely have been briefed about the progress in the case and if he was not then he would surely have known about it through various means. How did then Rajinder Kumar continue to rise in the IB in last nine years of UPA rule? He questioned. The first affidavit filed on behalf of the MHA said all four were terrorists and the three persons accompanying Ishrat Jahan were in constant touch with their Pakistani masters through satellite phones. The BJP is now raising these same issues. Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman said this charge sheet underplays the role of the LeT and only serves to demoralise the security apparatus of the country in its fight against terror. As per the established practice, the IB, while giving the input to the Gujarat Police, would have shared it with the top functionaries in the government at the Centre, including the Prime Minister. I would like to know what was the response of the Central government then, she said. The issue has already unleashed a huge debate in the corridors of the North Block that houses MHA and IB. While law and order is a state subject, fighting terror is the shared responsibility of the Centre and the state. Its a known fact in the security set up that the IB often gives covert assistance to the state police in counter terrorism operations and in such other cases which

concern national interest. The CBIs questioning of IB officers in the last fortnight has already escalated tension between the two arms, intelligence and investigation, of the Union government. Sources said the IB has warned of a situation where its officers would be unwilling to share any substantive information with the security agencies that could jeopardise their own fate while being in service or after retirement. Within intelligence circles, Kumar is considered to be a sincere officer who has never been seen to be establishing contacts with political leaders of either side. The CBI, however, is inclined to probe it further. The charge sheet has included two other IB officers Rajeev Wankhede and MK Sinha in its ambit of investigation. A senior MHA officer said if the conflict between IB and CBI is allowed to escalate further, then it can have major implications on security in Kashmir and North-East where encounters with terrorists are still happening. The CBIs conduct suggest that the investigative agency did not have any evidence against Narendra Modi or Amit Shah, neither was there any real move to name them in the charge sheet. It therefore, used a simple time-tested idea: go for selective media leaks mentioning white beard-black beard, knowing fully well that the media would pounce on that. Beards suddenly became an important talking point and subject for investigation. More so because the CBI sourced it from one of the accused police officer, G Singhal, who is currently out on bail on technical grounds because the agency did not file the charge sheet within the stipulated time.

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Ishrat Jahan was abducted, drugged,

murdered: CBI chargesheet


The chargesheet says that Ishrat and three others killed were abducted and kept in illegal confinement before the encounter. The CBI says that it enough has evidence to prove that it was a cold blooded murder.
FP Staff Jul 3, 2013

he CBI in its first chargesheet in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, filed before the Additional Judicial Magistrate in Ahmadabad, has said that the encounter was indeed fake and she was wrongfully confined, tranquilised and murdered in cold blood. The chargesheet has also named eight Gujarat policemen including DG Vanzara, Tarun Barot, JR Parmar, NK Amin.

that Ishrat and the others were drugged before being killed. Cops were deployed across Ahmadabad to cover up the encounter, it added. The chargesheet states that Gujarat IPS officer DG Vanzara and others picked up weapons an AK 47 and two 9 mm pistols from the Intelligence Bureau which were later planted on Ishrat and the others bodies after they were killed. The CBI also has asked the court for more time to investigate IB officer Rajender Kumars role in the encounter. Legal counsel for the CBI, SK Saiyaad, said that the investigating agency has said that Ishrat Jahan and her male companion Javed were taken into confinement illegally by Intelligence Bureau officials and were killed after interrogation. Intelligence Bureau officials Rajeev Wankhede and MK Sinha had abducted them and kept them in confinement, Saiyaad said.

However it does not mention Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi or Amit Shah. The chargesheet filed by CBI in a local court, which also raises questions over the role of Intelligence Bureau, does not say whether the girl from Mumbai and three others killed with her were terrorists saying there was no mandate from the High Court to investigate their status. It says that all of them were abducted and kept in illegal confinement before the encounter. The CBI also says that it enough has evidence to prove that it was a cold blooded murder and

Another senior IB official Rajender Kumar and other accused Gujarat Police officials then went to the location where they were kept, interrogated them and killed them, he added. Among the sections under which the accused in the case have been charged include criminal conspiracy, illegal confinement and other sections, Saiyaad said. The CBI has also said that its investigating three more Intelligence Bureau officials: Rajeev Wankhede, MK Sinha and Rajender Kumar, and are carrying out further investigations in this
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regard. Ishrat Jahans mothers lawyer Mukul Sinha said that the CBI has not taken action against Gujarats top police officials. Ishrat Jahan, Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed on 15 June, 2004. The CBI told the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H S Khutwad that their investigation has established offence against all the seven police officers charge sheeted in the case. Investigation is going on against four Intelligence Bureau officers, including its Special Director Rajinder Kumar, and three other officers P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede, it said. A supplementary charge sheet would be filed against IB officers once the investigation was over, the court was told. The chargesheet, which is bound to open a can of worms, is the first instance in Gujarat encounter cases where the IB has been implicated, saying that Intelligence Bureau officials were involved from the time of abduction, to illegal confinement and killing of the four people.

The charge sheet, which runs into more than 1,500 pages, including 179 witnesses statements, says the conspiracy to kill the four was hatched by Pandey, Vanzara and Kumar. After securing illegal custody of Ishrat, Javed, Zeeshan and Amjad Ali, P P Pandey, Rajendra Kumar and Vanzara met at latters bunglow and planned the encounter, says the chargesheet. Elaborating on how Javed and Ishrat were abducted and taken into illegal custody, the charge sheet says crime branch officer Amin and Barot had taken Ishrat and Javed Sheikh in their custody on June 12 from Vasad toll booth in Anand district with the help of N K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede of IB. From there, the duo were taken to Khodiyar farm house on S G Highway, owned by one K S Desai, and kept there under the close watch of Nizamuddin Saiyyed, commando to Tarun Barot and Vishwanathan, a police constable, it says. On the part of Zeeshan Johar, the charge sheet claims that he was brought to Ahmedabad with the help of two alleged informers of Rajendra Kumar- Ovais and Asad- in April 2004 and kept in illegal confinement in apartment 164/165 of Gota Housing colony.

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Encounters and more in Gujarat

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Ishrat Jahan and the ethics of

Indias encounter policies


For decades now, the political system has done nothing to fix policing - leaving officers to put bullets through the back of suspects heads instead of properly investigating and prosecuting crimes. We need to fix this now.
Praveen Swami Jul 4, 2013

ets just call him J., the former United States special forces officer I met for dinner at a beach-shack somewhere many years ago. For much of his life, J. served in black operations: tracking down people thought to be his nations enemies; torturing them; puting a bullet through their head, and sometimes a second one just to make sure. It sometimes takes raw courage to kill in cold blood: if J. had been caught, hed have ended up exactly like the people he hunted.

discovering the truth. Perhaps, as human rights activist Vrinda Grover argued on CNN-IBN, Ishrat Jahan was killed for no other reason that she was a Muslim, in a state Muslims are being demonised. I dont know. Ive no idea what the senior officers alleged to have carried out the killingsPruthvipal Pandey, Rajinder Kumar and DG Vanzara think about Muslims. For all I know, because the CBI has chosen to be silent on the question of motive, they got Ishrat Jahans name from Ask Me. Then again, perhaps not. Telling the story of Indias Encounter Policy isnt easy, because everyone concerned denies it exists. Theres no way to prove otherwise. Its clear, though, that the story began long before anyone had heard of chief minister Narendra Modi. Through the colonial period and before, the execution of and torture of criminal suspects was commonplace. In his 1883 classic, James Stephen mocked British police officers in India: it is far pleasanter to sit comfortably in the shade rubbing red pepper in a poor devils eyes than to go about in the sun hunting up evidence. Killings of criminals began to gather pace in the 1960s, by the accounts of police officers, as a response to public frustration over the states inability to enforce order. From the mid-1960s, police forces in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh began shooting dacoits in response to massacres and lootinghidCopyright 2012 Firstpost

File photo shows suspended police officers Tarun Barot (holding revolver) and G.L Singhal (R) during a reconstruction of Ishrat Jehan encounter by CBI. PTI

The taking of human life should never, ever be a casual decision, he said, but it always, always ends up that way. Ive often recalled what J. told me while reporting on Ishrat Jahan Razas extra-judicial executionwhich is, for the record, what I suspect it was, just as I suspect she was a Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist about whom the union government is, for disgraceful political reasons, not keen on

eous crimes that have been vested with a certain aura of nostalgic romance now by Hindi pop film. Its been reported that 500 dacoits were shot dead. Though its impossible to say how many died in genuine exchanges of fire, contemporary newspaper accounts were suffused with stories of extra-judicial killings and torture. Even today, charges periodically surface that such killings still take place: last year, for example, the Rajasthan High Court ordered an investigation into the killing of Rameshwar Gurjar, an alleged dacoit. Four more dacoits were recently killed in Madhya Pradesh, too, under circumstances that were, well, intriguing. In Maharashtra, then-police commissioner Julio Ribeiro has often been alleged to have presided over the murder of organised crime suspects. Beginning with the cold-blooded murder of Manya Surve in 1983, an estimated 500 men with alleged links to crime syndicates and terrorism were simply shot dead. Hindu gangsters and Muslim gangsters both died. The encounter policy was not only not questioned at the time, journalist Debashish Panigrahi wrote, it was warmly welcomed as a necessary step in breaking the back of the underworld. Siddharth Shankar Ray, West Bengals former chief minister, is reputed to have presided over the torture and killing of hundreds of Maoists, aided by the states communists. There are graphic accounts of how over a hundred young Naxalites were killed by the Congress and the CPM together at Baranagar and Kashipur, close to Kolkata, and the dead bodies were tarred over and thrown into the Ganga. From several historical accounts, we know savagery most intense when the state was besieged. Its generally forgotten that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered the air force to bomb Aizawl in March, 1966, using air power against civilians. Former Assam Chief Secretary, Vijendra Singh Jafa, has recorded how the villagers of Darzo were relocated: the hamlet was set on fire, and elders ordered to certify that they had burnt down their own village.

Its indefensible right, this savagery? KTS Tulsi, the eminent lawyer, who served as public prosecutor in Punjabs most grim years of carnage, has provided rare insight why these things happened the way they did. In February, 1986, Dalip Singhs son, Avtar Singh, was shot dead by a group of four terrorists outside the village church. In June 1988, top terrorist Malkiat Singh Ajnala was arrestedand charged, based on his video-taped confession, with the murder. I, in my capacity as Public Prosecutor, met Dalip Singh, Tulsi wrote, who very bluntly told me, with tears in his eyes, that he would not give evidence in court because he had been told that if he did so, his two other sons would meet the same fate. Dalip Singh refused to identify his own sons murderer. Malkit Singh Ajnala vanished in the waning years of the insurgencyperhaps ending up as one of the many victims of Punjab Police encounters the police never did get around to identifying. From the frontlines of Indias insurgencies, stories like these emerge all the time. Farooq Ahmad Dar, known on the streets of Srinagar as Bitta Karate, who lives a quiet life in Srinagar after bragging that he executed Kashmiri Pandits, lives happilyhundreds of people showed up at his wedding in 2011. Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, who was eventually released in the Indian Airlines hostages-for-prisoners swap at Kandahar, wasnt ever convicted of a crime. Following Azhars release, and the surge of panIndia terrorism starting from 2002, security services operated a take-no-Pakistani-prisoners policythe reason I suspect Ishrat Jahan Raza was killed. Theres no evidence, though, that the Gujarat police was especially fond of these policies. In 2004, the year Ishrat Jahan was killed, there were 354 civilian civilians killed in police firingthe highest number coming from Andhra Pradesh, with 85, Jammu Kashmir with 50, Uttar Pradesh with 42. Gujarat had just 5. Even today, thats true: Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan
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topped the civilian killing list in 2011, the last year for which union government data is available. In India, then, theres this strange reality: if youre responsible for mass killings, youre either innocentor dead.

Little Ive seen, though, leads me to believe police or intelligence officers mainly do what they do for personal enrichment or political expediency: indeed, police officers whove spent their lives fighting insurgencies tend, in my experience, to be living less well than the ones well-connected enough to have had successful careers in traffic management. They do what they do, mostly, because in the Republic we have, as opposed to the one wed like to have, you often have to chose between law or order. We need to understand how this came about, because unless we do, theyll keep happening. Well be left a republic without law, or a republic without orderand neither can survive. India deserves betterbut moral sermons wont cut it. In an August 20, 1996, editorial, written amidst prosecutions of decorated Punjab Police officers, Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta asked this: the Punjab crisis saw five Prime ministers and as many internal security ministers. Each one knew precisely what was going on. Why are they hiding now? Good question. Perhaps the CBI will get around to asking it in the Ishrat Jahan case one of these days.

For five decades and more, extra-judicial means have been key to the Indian security systems way of fighting not just terrorism, but every kind of serious crime. It happened because police forces simply didnt have the numbers, resources or technologies needed to bring about prosecutionsand because the public demanded order. Its led, just as J. told me that day, to a casualisation of police attitudes to investigation, to the rule of law, and life itself: why bother spending months digging for evidence, when you can settle the case with a bullet?

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How deep is the rot in Gujarat police?


Theres reasonable ground to believe that many in the police top brass were too eager to please their political bosses in 2002 and the years after.
Akshaya Mishra Jul 2, 2013

2002 riots to Ishrat Jahan:

olitically loaded insinuations and crude guesswork easily overwhelms valid information on the 2002 riots and the spate of police encounter cases between 2002 and 2006.

politician, to conclude that the force has been serving as a tool of ideology, but theres reasonable ground to believe that many in its top brass were too eager to please their political bosses in 2002 and the years after it. Heres a look into the developments in 2002 and beyond: * The May 2002 report of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) says state officials (read police officials) were directly involved in the riots and they undertook a massive cover-up operation to conceal the states role in the violence. NGOs fighting for riot victims have been making the same claim from the beginning. * The Supreme Court virtually endorsed their position in its August 2004 judgement where it ordered the opening of 2,108 of the 4,000 cases relating to the Gujarat riots. All these cases had been closed by the police after shoddy investigations. Under pressure from the court, more than 1,600 have been opened and in some there have been convictions. Most of the cases are yet to come to court.

Based on selective, calculated leaks from investigating agencies and unidentified sources elsewhere and interpreted according to political leanings, these have formed an important part of the political narrative in the last one decade. It is par for the course when the state is Gujarat.

D G Vanzara (C) and Rajkumar Pandiyan (L), two of the three senior officers arrested in the Soharabuddin Sheikh fake encounter: AFP

Nothing is clear here till court verdicts settle matters. This applies to the Ishrat Jahan case too. However, there is something deeply unsettling about the state. It has to do with its police machinery. While police forces all over the country are known to kowtow to their political masters, the Gujarat police is in an entirely different league. It would be difficult at this point, without the support of a court verdict indicting a big

* Several police officers who played an active role in containing violence indeed violence was less intense where police officials intervened! were transferred to inconsequential positions. RB Sreekumar, former Director General of Police, says officials who played a proactive role were subjected to disciplinary proceedings and transfers. A few upright officers had to leave the state on deputation. * In March 2008, the Supreme Court pulled up the Gujarat government for being lackadaisical while probing several massacres and ordered a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate
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nine crucial cases. The court had earlier stayed trial in some of these cases responding to complaints from civil society organisations that the police had conducted no proper investigation. * Again in February 2012, the Supreme Court criticized the Gujarat government for using the police force to harass activists fighting for justice with false charges. * Between 2002 and 2006, the police conducted an unusually high number of encounters, which the civil society organisations claim to be fake and aimed at a particular community. In March 2012, the Supreme Court appointed Justice HS Bedi to head an authority to monitor of 22 alleged fake encounter killings. This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of

the lapses of the Gujarat police during and in the aftermath of the riots. There are just too many allegations against it, levelled by its own officers,present and former, and the civil society. As we mentioned earlier, the extent of the rot would be clear only through court verdicts. However, what is troubling about the narrative is the recurring theme of police apathy and complicity in extra-judicial killings, and the involvement of very senior police officials in the ideological agenda of the political bosses. Theres no way right now to ascertain whether they were following orders from the top or just getting over-enthusiastic. The Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case would expose to some extent the real face of the Gujarat police.

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killing as a one-off incident


What gives more credence to the ideological angle is the strong defence of the BJP of the Gujarat government in response to the chargesheet filed by the CBI.
Akshaya Mishra Jul 4, 2013

Why its hard to dismiss Ishrat

inally it is not about any singular political figure or encounter killings of members of a particular community or riots, the entire post-Modi Gujarat discourse is about ideology. It is an ideology built around identity and is thus inherently exclusivist. It encourages and heartily endorses the muscular, and masculine, approach to inter-community issues and in general problem solving. And yes, threat is an essential weapon in the promotion and sustenance of such ideology.

throw up a pattern. Gujarat had had riots earlier too, instigated both by the Right wingers and the Congress and there is no reason to doubt that there would have been encounter cases before 2002. But never earlier was the pattern, with the state as the visible centrepiece, this distinct. The pattern involves sustained cooperation among different elements of the state and forces from outside to promoting an ideological agenda.That is one of the reasons why the 2002 riots refuse to leave Modi alone. The link between the Hindu nationalist agenda of the Sangh Parivar and the Modi government could be perceptional, but the state government has shown no particular urgency to dispel it. It beggars belief that a chief minister known for micromanaging all the affairs of the state would be unaware of the encounter killings happening under his nose. It is also difficult to accept that the trigger-happy police officers were working on their own without any tacit permission from the political masters. There has to be connection between the two. Again, the fact that so many police officials were involved both in the execution of the actual operation and then the cover-up during investigations provide the narrative a sharp ideological perspective. What gives more credence to the ideological angle is the strong defence of the BJP of the Gujarat government in response to the chargesheet filed by the CBI. The party was quick to deflect attention from the question whether the extrajudicial killings of the Muslims was morally and legally justifiable. It shifted to the usual Right wing macho ideological line on the way to deal
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Thus, it is difficult to dismiss the killing of of Ishrat Jahan and others by the Gujarat police as a one off incident with no deeper connotation. To start with, it was never one off. It forms part of a series of encounters that took place between 2002 and 2006. Together with the riots of 2002, the Gaurav Yatra taken out by Narendra Modi soon after the violence it was a chestthumping exercise aimed at thanking people for the heroism they displayed during the riots, and the general approach of the administration towards the Muslims, the encounter killings

with terrorists. It insisted on Ishrat and others being terrorists and in a way suggested that they deserved to be eliminated in this fashion. The Right has traditionally been impatient with democratic and judicial processes and a big advocate of the idea of instant, and gratifying justice. The BJP with its response to the CBIs affidavit has indicated that it is prepared to make the approach a national talking point. It would be aware of the fact that Gujarat is expected to throw up many more cases in the future and the approach to it could not be scattered. The best way to handle these would be to stick to a singular ideological line and build a jingoistic frenzy around the issue of terror. Eventually there would be many takers for the approach.

Since the party and the Sangh Parivar have decided on going ahead with Modi as their face in the run up to the elections in 2014 despite his several limitations, they have to stand by him now. They have to spin the encounter and other stories well to fit them into his muscular approach to all issues, local, national and even international. It would not please the minority communities remember, the fight of the Hindutva forces is not against the Muslims only or the liberals in the country, but that is the only way to go. The Indian Right is getting ready for its biggest fight ever and staking everything on it. Finally, everything is about ideology.

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involvement, says Ishrats sister


The family members of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in a fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004 alleged that Chief Minister Narendra Modi too was a part of the conspiracy, and he should not be spared.
PTI, Jul 4, 2013

CBI chargesheet: I suspect Modis

umbai: The family members of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in a fake encounter in Gujarat in 2004 alleged that Chief Minister Narendra Modi too was a part of the conspiracy, and he should not be spared.

I am hopeful that those who hatched the conspiracy would also be severely punished, said Shamima with tears in her eyes. Ishrats sister Nushrat recalled, My sister was in BSc second year when she was killed and she was the only breadwinner in the house after our father died in 2002. We had to go through a lot of problems after Ishrats death. It has now been proved by the CBI that Ishrat was killed in a fake encounter. Because of the blot on our family, our sisters could not get married and our brother did not get any job, said a sobbing Mushrat. Responding to a query if she suspected Modis role in the murder, Nushrat replied, My sister was killed with allegations that she had gone to murder Narendra Modi. Hence in my sisters murder, I suspect Modis involvement. Rauf Lala, a relative of Ishrat Jahan, said, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was aware of the facts surrounding Ishrat through IB. Still she was killed in the fake encounter. Modi was part of the conspiracy hatched to murder Ishrat we hope, in the supplementary charge sheet, Modi and others names would also appear. Local MLA Jitendra Avhad (NCP), who has championed Ishrats familys cause from the start, said the family would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to request him to ensure transparent investigation in the case.

Ishrat Jahans mother and sister at press conference. PTI

The chargesheet stated that the fake encounter was a joint operation between Gujarat police and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau. Ishrats mother Shamima Kauser told reporters that CBI has confirmed what she has been stating for the last nine years that her daughter was innocent and that she was killed in a fake encounter. I have been repeatedly saying for the past nine years that my daughter is innocent and falsely implicated. Because of some policemen and politicians, we had to face these problems. Names of the accused, who ensured execution of the murder, have not appeared in the chargesheet.

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Ishrat Jahan case: Surprised that IB officer not named in CBI chargesheet, says lawyer
Mukul Sinha, lawyer for Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, alleged there was political pressure behind Kumar not being made an accused in the first charge sheet submitted in the 2004 Ishar Jahan encounter case.
PTI, Jul 3, 2013 hmedabad: The lawyer of one of the four people killed in a police encounter in the Ishrat Jahan case which the CBI established as fake today expressed surprise that Rajinder Kumar, a Special Director of Intelligence Bureau, was not named in its first charge sheet itself.

Sinha said Kumar should not only be named but also arrested especially when the CBI submitted in its charge sheet that the fake encounter was a joint operation between Gujarat police and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB). It is a clever method of hiding the truth as far as the actual culprits are concerned, Sinha said, and alleged that Kumar is one of the main accused. The charge sheet, however, said investigation is on against Kumar and other four officers of the IB. The court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H S Khutwad was also told that a supplementary charge sheet would be filed against IB officers once the investigation was over.

Mukul Sinha, lawyer for Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, alleged there was political pressure behind Kumar not being made an accused in the first charge sheet submitted in the 2004 Ishar Jahan encounter case. I am surprised his(Kumar) name was not there, he added.

Besides Ishrat, a 19-year old college girl and Shaikh, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in the encounter near Ahmedabad on 15 June, 2004. Kumar has already been questioned twice by CBI triggering a row between the probe agency and the IB.

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Facts are facts, guilty should be punished:

Shinde on Ishrat Jahan case


Shindes statement bears significance as Home Ministry officials have been maintaining that there was not enough evidence against Intelligence Bureau Special Director Rajendra Kumar.
PTI, Jul 4, 2013

ew Delhi: A day after CBI told a court in Ahmedabad that it is probing the role of IB officers in Ishrat Jahan case, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said those guilty of carrying out the alleged fake encounter should be punished.

Shindes statement bears significance as Home Ministry officials have been maintaining that there was not enough evidence against Intelligence Bureau Special Director Rajendra Kumar and three others in the alleged fake encounter case. CBI had yesterday held that 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan was killed in a fake encounter in 2004 and charge sheeted seven police officers in the case, saying it was a joint operation between Gujarat police and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau. The Home Ministry has been maintaining that CBI does not have enough evidence to prosecute IB officer Kumar in the alleged fake encounter case and it was unlikely to give sanction to CBI to prosecute the senior IPS officer.

Facts are facts. Guilty should be punished, Shinde told PTI when asked to comment on CBIs submission to the court.

However, CBI has not sought the sanction from the Home Ministry, which is the cadre controlling authority of IPS officers.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

soon be exposed, says Congress


He (Modi) will also be exposed some time. Truth comes out at one point or the other. Truth speaks for itself from the rooftop. Someday, you will come to know of the real face of the Gujarat Chief Minister, AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistri said.
PTI, Jul 3, 2013

Ishrat Jahan case: Modi will

ew Delhi: With CBI holding as fake the 2004 encounter of Ishrat Jahan in Gujarat, Congress on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Narendra Modi saying truth speaks for itself from the rooftop and claimed that the chief ministers role in such encounters will also be exposed.

gence Bureau. Mistri said all the people from Gujarat know that this encounter was fake. During a period of three months, when there was talks about removing Modi as Chief Ministers, such encounters took place with frequent intervals propping up a theory that there was an attempt to murder Modi. The AICC general secretary, who hails from Gujarat, also said sarcastically that no one comes to kill Modi since some of the police officers went to jail. Rejecting BJPs charge that it was doing votebank politics in encounter cases, Congress questioned the intent of BJP in defending IB officer Rajinder Kumar over his role in Ishrat case. CBI is a central agency. So is IB. Why they (BJP) are defending the IB officer? What interest they have in protecting the IB officer? Why they are doing it? What is their intent, Mistri asked, adding that the CBI inquiry in this case is not taking place at the behest of Congress but as per orders of the Supreme Court and high court. Party spokesperson Meem Afzal speaking separately steered clear of questions over the political fall out but maintained that the party wanted law to take its own course and culprits to be brought to book. The blood of innocent speaks loudly and reveals the identity of the killer, he said.

He (Modi) will also be exposed some time. Truth comes out at one point or the other. Truth speaks for itself from the rooftop. Someday, you will come to know of the real face of the Gujarat Chief Minister, AICC general secretary Madhusudan Mistri told reporters. He was reacting to the CBI charge sheet in an Ahmedabad court that the 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan was killed in a fake encounter. The agency named seven police officers in its charge sheet in the case, saying it was a joint operation by Gujarat police and the Subsidiary Intelli-

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

The run up to the case:

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Ishrat Jahan: The inconvenient

story no one wants to tell


Firstpost has obtained 26/11 perpetrator David Headleys testimony to the FBI, which shows he was told Ishrat Jahan was a suicide bomber. The UPA government has hidden this and other part of the story even as a CBI probe seeks to indict the highest leadership of Indias intelligence in the encounter killing.
Praveen Swami Jun 13, 2013

ate in the summer of 2004, the Lashkare-Taibas top operations commander Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi held the terrorist organisations first meeting with David Headley, the young Chicago drug dealer-turnedjihadist at the heart of the 26/11 project. Lakhvi told Headley he would be working with Muzammil Bhat, the full-bearded 64 giant in the room, who counted among the Lashkars most able operatives. Bhats achievements, Federal Bureau of Investigations interrogators recorded Headley as being told, included multiple strikes in Kashmir and recruiting a female suicide bomber named Ishrat Jahaan [sic].

Nine years since a hail of bullets ripped through Mumbra resident Ishrat Jahan Razas body, a Central Bureau of Investigations into her killing, along with three men, threatens to indict the highest leadership of Indias intelligence services for cold-blooded execution. Even as the CBI works towards finding out just how Ishrat died, theres a growing mass of evidence that suggests the United Progressive Alliance government has been economical with the truth about her life and her death. Last year, the National Investigations Agency told Gujarat High Court judges Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari they had nothing but hearsay on Ishrat. Firstposts documentation on the FBI interrogation of Headley shows the union government knew otherwisebut remained silent. It isnt the only thing it has chosen to be silent on. Early on the morning of 15 June 2004, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana were shot dead on the road leading to the Kotarpur waterworks on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. KP Singh was at that time director of the Intelligence Bureau; Nehchal Sandhu, who is today deputy national security advisor, was then in charge of counter-terrorism operations; MK Narayanan, who is today West Bengal governor, was then advisor on internal security. And Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister, then as now.
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Zaki, Headley went on, mentioned Muzammils plans to attack Akshardham temple, Somnath and Siddhi temples. These attacks were revenge for the 1988 attack on the mosque in Yuppe [sic, the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh].

The first three, without doubt, would have known of the IB warning that went out to all states on 22 April 2004, warning of imminent attacks on top Hindu nationalist politicians, including LK Advani. Later, the IBs Gujarat station would provide the Gujarat Police more detail, telling Ahmedabads police chief there were two Pakistani terrorists with Punjabi accents planning an attack, in coordination with a Pune resident. From accounts given to Firstpost by three separate intelligence sources, the IBs operation had its genesis in February 2004, when the Jammu and Kashmir Police shot dead Poonch-based Lashkar operative Ehsan Illahi. Letters found on Illahis body led the police to an Ahmedabad-based lawyer. From there, the operation rolled on. Theres some reason to believe the Lashkars plot was penetrated. First Information Report 8 of 2004, filed by the Ahmedabad Police Crime Branch after the killing, records that the authorities knew of the imminent arrival of a blue Tata Indica carrying the victims, bearing the licence plate number MH02 JA4786suggesting the Intelligence Bureau had an informant on the inside. No one suggested that based on an intelligence input you should kill someone, former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said in 2009. Thats true, but it neatly dodges the question of what the UPA did when four terrorists whom its intelligence services were following ended up dead. The CBI hasnt sought any answers, so far, from any of the people who can answer that question. We know next to nothing, too, about what led Javed Sheikh to his death. Born Praneshkumar Pillai at Thamarakulam village in Keralas Alappuzha district, Sheikh met and fell in love with Sajida Sheikh in 1986. He converted to Islam in an (unsuccessful) effort to overcome her familys resistance. In September 1995, though, the two married and moved to Mumbais Mumbra area. Then, they shifted to Pune after a business dispute turned violent. Sheikhs life continued to be turbulent; the police filed four rioting cases against him in 1997 alone.

In 2003, Sheikh left for Dubai, securing a job on a forged Indian Technical Institute certificate. He returned, according to Sajida Sheikhs testimony, embittered by videotapes he had seen of the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat. On 29 March 2004, Sheikh again flew to Oman, on passport E6624023, identifying him as Praneshkumar M. Gopinath Pillaihaving obtained this in addition to a passport in his Muslim name. He flew back to Mumbai on 11 April carrying Rs 2.5 lakh in cash, which he used to purchase the Indica he drove to his death. The government said, in a 2004 affidavit, that Sheikh was in regular touch with Lashkar-eTaiba operatives, particularly Muzammil Bhat. Government sources say there is wiretap evidence to back this up, but the UPA hasnt ever ordered it made public, and the CBI hasnt sought it. Sheikh met Ishrat and her mother in Mumbra on 1 May 2004where Sheikh said he needed a salesgirl for a new perfume store. There is no evidence that Sheikh ran a perfume business. On 30 May, he drove his wife and children to the family home in Alappuzha. From 6 June to 9 June, the family stayed at Sajida Sheikhs family home in Ahmednagar. Then, Sajida Sheikh said, her husband called on the morning of 11 June to say he had to go to Mumbai on unexpected work. Two days later, when Sajida Sheikh called her husband, his cellphone was out of network reach. Hotel staff at the Tulsi Guest House in Bardoli, on National Highway 6 outside of Surat, say Sheikh and Ishrat checked in after 2 am on 12 June 2004. On 14 June, their car developed mechanical trouble. The staff at the Shakti Motor Garage outside Ahmedabad told the police that Sheikh paid Rs 1,025 for repairs. Earlier this month, additional solicitor-general Indira Jaisingh told the Supreme Court the CBI has evidence the group was kidnapped on the orders of former state intelligence chief PP Pandey at least a day before they were shot dead. Last month, the CBI interrogated former Gujarat Intelligence Bureau station chief Rajinder Kumar, now in charge of counter-intelligence
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

operations. The organisation is reported to be seeking his arrest, saying he was responsible for having the alleged terrorists detained illegally and brought to Gujarat. Its hard to see how his superiors wouldnt have knownand why they arent being asked about it. Funnily, though, the five police officers alleged to have been actually present when Ishrat was allegedly kidnapped and killedGirish Singhal, Tarun Barot, JG Parmar, Bharat Patel and Anaju Chaudharygot bail after the CBI failed to file charges against them in the 90 days allowed by law. This presumably happened because the CBI doesnt have enough evidence against them to sustain a prosecutionthough it claims to have witnesses to the kidnapping and illegal detention. Nine years ago, no one knew for sure whether Ishrat was a terrorist or not, and whether she was killed in cold blood or a legitimate exchange of fire. Its unclear why the CBI hasnt spoken to large numbers of people who might have something to add to this story. From the testimony of Faizabad resident Muhammad Wasi, made before an Ahmedabad magistrate, theres reason to believe Sheikh shopped for pistols and a sten gun in Uttar Pradesh sometime after February 2004. Wasi claims Sheikh was introduced to him by another Faizabad resident, Muhammad Mehrajuddin whom the CBI hasnt even sought to locate. The CBI hasnt questioned Muhammad Abdul Razzak, an alleged jihadist held by the Delhi Police in 2005, who claimed to have told interrogators he sent Sheikh to a jihad training camp. Kashmir residents Majid Husain Qadri, Pervez Ahmad Khan Abdul Aziz Shah, alleged to have helped Amjad Ali Rana after he was shot trying to cross the Line of Control, have never once

been questioned. Investigators say the three men had Johar treated in New Delhi, at the City Clinic in Paharganj. Siddharth Sahai, who performed surgery on Rana, identified him when the police showed him photographs. Then, theres Headleys testimonytotally ignored so far. For years now, weve got plenty of things that make headlines, but nothing resembling even part of the truth. In 2009, metropolitan magistrate KS Tamang indicted the police for faking the encounter, but in a report full of mind-boggling nonsense: given the nature of women, none usually wears her college identity card during journey; when any lady travels from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, she invariably carries her purse and handkerchief in her hands. It made multiple errors of appraisal, from misreading forensic evidence to presumptively declaring the suspects innocents. Gujarats High Court responded to petitions by the families of Ishrat and Sheikh by appointing a special investigation team. From the outset, there was contention with Karnail Singh and Mohan Jha, among allegations of bias. Notably, lead officer Satish Verma rejected the findings of forensic experts who concluded that the encounter didnt appear faked at all. Verma himself faces allegations relating to alleged negligence in the landing of smuggled explosives and extrajudicial killingsand the targets of investigation claim, rightly or wrongly, that he harbours biases against them. Like all truths, the whole truth about Ishrat Jahans life and death likely wont please anyone. Its critical, though, to the credibility of Indias criminal justice system, and the future of our struggle against terrorism. Nothing anyone has done so far, though, suggests anyone really wants to tell the storyand nothing the CBI is doing gives reason to think thats going to change.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Ishrat Jahans mother alleges

attempt to murder her


Two men on a motorcycle were reportedly following a car that was carrying Ishrat Jahans mother.
FP Staff Jun 20, 2013 police while the other managed to escape. The probe into the Ishrat Jahan killing is nearing an end with the Gujarat High Court directing the CBI to file its charge sheet in the case by 4 July. A division bench of justice Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari told CBI that there was considerable delay in the investigation and filing of the charge sheet resulting in the accused being released on bail. The CBI, acting on the instruction of the High Court, had taken over the probe of the alleged fake encounter in which 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed on the outskirts of the city on 15 June 2004 allegedly by a state Crime Branch team led by DIG D G Vanzara. The investigations have invited their fair share of controversy with the probe delving into the truth behind the Intelligence Bureau notification that the group was planning to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. While the CBI said they had no evidence to link the Gujarat Chief Minister to the incident, the Intelligence Bureau took strong exception to the probe targeting one of its officers.

n what could be a shocking development in the case, two unidentified persons allegedly attempted to murder the mother of Ishrat Jahan while she was returning home to Mumbra late last night.

Shamima Kauser was returning home on Wednesday night when a person who was travelling with her said that they spotted two men following their car on a motorcycle. I saw a gun in the hand of the pillion rider, hotelier Mohiddin Sayyad, who was with Kauser, told the Indian Express. The report that one of the two persons on the motorcycle was caught and handed over to the

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Why the Ishrat Jahan case

has no non-toxic ending


The Home Ministrys move to get the CBI to secure sanction for the prosecution of IB officer Rajendra Kumar is the latest twist in the bizarre case.
FP Politics Jul 1, 2013

ven nine years after the Ishrat Jahan encounter killing, its proving dizzyingly difficult to keep pace with the many curious goings-on in the case. If the tug-of-war between the CBI and the Intelligence Bureau over the investigating agencys decision to name IB special director Rajendra Kumar in the charge-sheet in the 2004 killing was not sensational enough, the latest turn of the screw in the form of a move by the Home Affairs Ministry to slow down the CBI effort validates the sneaking suspicion that powerful forces are at work to muddy the waters for political ends.

with the sanction of the Government is accused of any offence alleged to have been committed by him while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of his official duty, no Court shall take cognizance of such offence except with the previous sanction (Full text here.) CBI officials, who are preparing to file a chargesheet later this week, claim, on the other hand, that on the basis of the evidence that they have, they dont really require the sanction of the Home Affairs Ministry. Rajendra Kumar will likely be charged with playing a crucial role in generating the intelligence input that led to the killing of Ishrat Jahan and four others in an alleged encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004. The intelligence inputs had claimed that Ishrat Jahan and the others were coming to Ahmedabad to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, but the CBI is seeking to establish that the encounter was faked, and that Ishrat Jahan and the others were in the custody of State police officials at the time of the killing. Late last week, documents purported to have been secured from the CBI (the details of which were published in Tehelka magazine and aired on NDTV) claimed even more sensationally that the encounter killings had the prior approval of top political leaders in particular two men who were identified only as safed dhadi (white beard) and kali dhadi (black beard). Those cryptic allusions to facial hair were widely interpreted as pointing to Modi and his then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah. The weight of what appears to be hearsay evidence in this case will be tested in the courts,
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

The Home Affairs Ministry is now sending out the message that the CBI will have to seek sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedures for the prosecution of Rajendra Kumar since he is a public servant. (More details here and here and here.) That Section, which relates to the prosecution of judges and public servants, says: When any person who is or was a judge or magistrate or a public servant not removable from his office save by or

but the selective leaks of crucial prosecution strategy and claimed evidence validates the suspicion that the intention in this case is not limited to securing justice but to make a political roadshow of the trial. As columnist Ashok Malik observes, the evidence cited one accused-turned-witnessturned-would-be approver, having allegedly heard another person refer to two people with beards then concluding that the reference was to Gujarats chief minister and home minister Amit Shah at the time is scarcely compelling. If courts began pronouncing judgments on such hearsay and allegedly overheard loose talk, three-fourths of Parliament members would have been behind bars by now. That such a high-profile case centred around an alleged assassination attempt on the Chief Minister of a State, involving alleged operatives of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, should have dragged on for so many years without being brought to fruition, and still see driblets of politically sensitive information being leaked by the investigating agency, points to the political stakes that are riding on it. The latest move by the Home Affairs Ministry to get the CBI to abide by the procedural requirement of seeking government sanction for Rajendra Kumars prosecution is just the latest piece of the jigsaw puzzle to fall in place. But whichever way the case turns, there are absolutely no circumstances in which it will have

a happy ending. If the CBIs claim is established and upheld by the court- and it is a big if it would mean that the Chief Minister of a State was complicit in a fake encounter killing. Even given the many egregious earlier instances of fake encounter killings in other States with the express orders of the top political leadership, such a denouement would represent a perversion of power politics where there is utter disdain for due process of law (particularly if it is established that the alleged terrorists were in police custody). But even the other possibility that the encounter wasnt faked opens up another disquieting line of thought: that the CBI is being used in perverse ways to fix a political adversary through foul means. As Malik points out, the issue goes beyond merely a battle between the CBI and the IB or even the prospects of individual officers. The manner in which a major assassination attempt against a top political leader is sought to be mocked and dismissed despite the LeT embracing Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices s its martyrs in the days following their killing speaks of an unconscionable irresponsibility. That the Congress, which has lost two Prime Ministers to assassination, can resort to such methods makes it all the more unfortunate. Whichever way the case proceeds from here on, it is hard to escape a toxic ending to the narrative.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

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Copyright 2012 Firstpost