Police official Verma files affidavit in Gujarat High Court
In a new twist to the controversy, Ahmedabad Joint Police Commissioner and member of the Gujarat High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team Satish Verma does not rule out the possibility of the Ishrat Jahan encounter also being fake as was the incident in which Sohrabuddin Sheikh was killed. In an 80-page affidavit filed on Friday, Mr. Verma suggested that a fresh first information report be filed — on the June 15, 2004 killing of the Mumbai college girl and three others on the outskirts of Ahmedabad — for a proper re-investigation.
Mr. Verma told a Division Bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari that considering the circumstances that led to the killings, a fake encounter could not be ruled out.
“There could be only two possibilities — either the four had actually come to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi as claimed by the State Anti-Terrorist Squad or they have been killed in cold blood by the police.” Even if the first possibility was true, “the second possibility of their having been killed in a fake encounter cannot be ruled out.” Mr. Verma said: “There is scientific and circumstantial evidence against the version provided in the FIR on the staged shootout case. There was some evidence, though not conclusive and final, but good enough to suspect beyond reasonable doubt that it could be a fake encounter.”
The statements of head constable Moti Desai, read together with those of Raju Jirawala, owner of the Arham farm house, and his watchman Raman, show that one of the two alleged Pakistani nationals killed in this case were kept in captivity in the farm house for five days prior to the encounter, Mr. Verma said. The weekly diaries of inspector J.G. Parmar and other officers also appeared to be in conformity with the head constable's disclosures.
Moreover, post mortem showed, the paths of many bullets in the bodies of the deceased were not consistent with the FIR version. Mr. Verma claimed that one bullet of 9 mm calibre recovered from the person of one of them, Amjad Ali Rana, did not match with any police weapon allegedly used during the incident. Twisted parts of bullets recovered from Ishrat's body also did not match with any of the police weapons allegedly used then. The FIR itself suffered from lacunae, he claimed.
The affidavit pointed out that though the FIR mentioned an intelligence input received by the City Police Commissioner, there was no record of any intelligence received by him. “None of the nakabandi officers as per the FIR attempted to stop the car of the deceased. Not even a signal to stop them was given.”
Nor was any alert given to the adjoining Gandhinagar district or to police stations in Ahmedabad, Mr. Verma said. “No message on wireless was given, which is extraordinary. Even though the alleged terrorists could have entered the city from the Narol crossing, no nakabandi points were deployed inside the city. And it was almost assumed that the vehicle would either turn left or right.”
Earlier, doubts about the genuineness of the episode were raised by Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate S.P. Tamang, who, after a routine inquiry, concluded it to be a case of fake encounter and “cold-blooded murder” by the ATS. His report led Shamima Kausar, mother of Ishrat; and Gopinath Pillai, father of Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, one of the victims, to file pleas in the High Court for a fresh investigation.
The court on September 24 last appointed the three-member SIT headed by Delhi Joint Police Commissioner Karnail Singh, with Mr. Verma and another Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Mohan Jha, as members for a fresh investigation.