The Gujarat High Court has asked the CBI to complete by July 4 its inquiry into the 2004 killing of 19-year-old Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan and three others, who it was claimed were on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Simultaneously, ahead of the court hearing on Tuesday, the CBI questioned Intelligence Bureau (IB) Special Director Rajendra Kumar in Gandhinagar for the second time in connection with the case.
The CBI says it has evidence that Mr. Kumar, who was the IB’s Joint Director in Gujarat at that time, was part of the conspiracy to kill Ishrat and generated fake IB inputs that Ishrat and her accomplices were on a mission to eliminate Mr. Modi and several sangh parivar functionaries.
Mr. Kumar’s interrogation has raised the hackles of the IB, which alleged that the CBI move could set an unhealthy precedent, given that IB sleuths often work undercover and their sources may dry up if they are investigated like this.
The High Court on Tuesday reiterated that the CBI must retain its focus on the events that led to the killing of Ishrat and others in custody by the Gujarat police officials, and not on whether they were terrorists or not.
Last week, the court held that the officials had no business killing the four people even if they were avowed terrorists.
It told the CBI, “The court is not concerned whether they were terrorists or normal human beings. You [CBI] have been assigned the responsibility to ascertain whether they were killed in a genuine encounter or a fake one, and whether they were in prior custody of the Gujarat police or not.”
The Gujarat police had maintained that their officials shot Ishrat, a college student and others on a highway near Ahmedabad in 2004 because the IB had warned that the group was planning to assassinate Mr. Modi on behalf of Lashkar-e-Taiba.