These could prove the encounter to be fake

The Gujarat High Court-appointed Special Investigation Team probing the Ishrat Jahan encounter case is believed to have found new evidence, which could prove it to be a fake encounter.

SIT member Satish Verma reportedly “raided” the ballistic division of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Ahmedabad and recovered a computer hard disk and some other documents that showed Ishrat and some others having received bullet wounds on their backs.

It was not clear whether the laboratory was under instruction to “hide” the crucial photographs since the encounter on June 15, 2004, but the angry officials filed a complaint with the police against Mr. Verma and his Deputy, Assistant Commissioner of Police V.R. Tolia, for alleged “unauthorised” entry on the laboratory premises. It, however, could not justify its complaint of “loot” against the raiding police officers as Mr. Verma and his team handed over due receipt for the articles they had taken from the FSL laboratory to help them in the investigation.

According to the sources close to Mr. Verma, the two officers, while scanning the hard disk, found some photographs and other evidences which had not been handed over to the investigating teams. Some photographs showed Ishrat and three others killed in the encounter with bullet marks on their back, which could bust the claims of the then Anti-Terrorist Squad of the police headed by the former DIG, D.G. Vanzara, that the “terrorists” who had “come to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi” were killed in an “exchange of fire.” The team also took away some other documents, including some crime scene data, ballistic data and compact discs from the laboratory.

The incident also brought out the sharp differences within the three-member SIT, with Joint Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad Mohan Jha, who is also the second member of the SIT, turning from one police officer to the other for “enquiry” against Mr. Verma, on the complaint by the FSL officials.

Mr. Jha was in charge of the Ahmedabad Police Commissionerate on the night of the Verma team's “raid” on the FSL laboratory, in the absence of Police Commissioner Amitabh Pathak, who was on leave. Mr Jha passed on the FSL complaint to Deputy Police Commissioner Amit Vishwakarma for enquiry, but the DCP could not make a case of criminal intimidation and loot against Mr. Verma as everything about the raid was placed on record.

Mr. Jha then asked the Assistant Police Commissioner of another division, M.V. Mehta, to enquire whether it was a fit case for filing an FIR against the “raiding” party. He is yet to submit his report, the police sources said.

The differences between Mr. Verma and the two other team members, Mr. Jha and SIT leader Karnail Singh, Joint Police Commissioner of Delhi, had come out time and again, with Mr. Verma raising strong objections against the “investigation methods” and other issues of the team. Mr. Jha had always sided with Mr. Singh and supported his stand during hearings in the High Court. Mr. Verma had complained in the High Court that he had not been given a “free hand” for holding an impartial investigation into the alleged fake encounter.