"The encounter was a joint operation between Gujarat police and Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) in the State.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation’s first charge sheet in the nine-year-old Ishrat Jahan encounter case filed on Wednesday stated that the unlawful killing was a joint operation of the Gujarat police and the Intelligence Bureau and named seven State police officials as the accused.
The agency, which submitted its charge sheet at a crowded court room in the Special CBI court here, has not fixed charges against four IB officials allegedly involved in the conspiracy, saying it needed more time for investigation.
But the names of the IB officials — Special Director Rajinder Kumar, Assistant Director (Ahmedabad) M. K. Sinha, Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajeev Wankhede and P Mittal — figure in the charge sheet as those who allegedly facilitated the killing by generating fake intelligence inputs as well as by being present at the crime scene.
Gujarat police officers involved in the staged encounter and the joint police commissioner heading the crime branch then, P. P. Pandey, have for the record stated that it was the IB alert that a Lashkar-e-Taiba module was out to assassinate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi that triggered the shooting.
The chargesheet states that the college girl Ishrat and three others were abducted and then killed in a staged encounter by officers and men of the Ahmedabad Crime branch.
As the team of CBI counsel arrived at 5 pm in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate H. S. Khutwad in the presence of hordes of journalists waiting since morning, it told the judge that the charge sheet was quite bulky and could not be brought to the court room but would be verified in the records room.
The CBI counsel read out the operative part from a summary and completed the verification process after over an hour. The Gujarat police officials chargesheeted are Additional Director General of Police P. P. Pandey, Deputy Inspector General of Police D. G. Vanzara and Superintendents of Police N. K. Amin, G. L. Singhal, J. G. Parmar and Tarun Barot. Besides them, the name of a commando Anaju Chaudhary also figures in the document.
The cops have been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, illegal confinement and destruction of evidence. Sections of the Arms Act have also been imposed on them. The CBI has found no charges against nine cops whose statements it had recorded under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
A CBI counsel told The Hindu that there would be a supplementary chargesheet against the IB officials and others, though he refrained from saying if any politicians had been named. He said there was no time frame to file the second document.
Contrary to media speculation, the first chargesheet neither refers to then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, who is now the BJP general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, nor the Gujarat Chief Minister.
The chargesheet has not been released to the media but, according to sources, says that when the victims were in illegal confinement, D. G. Vanzara, P. P. Pandey, Rajinder Kumar and N. K. Amin had grilled them.
Later Pandey, Vanzara and Rajinder Kumar planned the plot at Vanzara's bungalow.
In April 2004, Jeeshan Jowher and Amjad Ali were picked up while Javed alias Pranesh Pillai and Ishrat Jahan were picked up in June.
It says, among many other things, that following instructions from D. G. Vanzara, police officer G. L. Singhal picked up a bag full of weapons and handed it to over constable Nizammuddin, who passed it on to Tarun Barot.
The charge sheet says the weapons were later planted on the victims. Later Singhal was called to the ATS office in Shahibaug where Vanzara and Pandey were present. Vanzara was in possession of a draft FIR about the shootout.
(copy has been corrected for a factual error.)