IPS officer held in Ishrat encounter case

Darshan Desai
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Ishrat Jahan
Ishrat Jahan

The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested IPS officer G.L. Singhal here on Thursday in connection with an alleged fake encounter killing of 19-year-old Mumbra college student Ishrat Jahan near Ahmedabad in 2004.

Mr. Singhal, who is now posted as Superintendent of Police at the Crime Records Bureau in Gandhinagar, was arrested from his office. Officials also conducted searches at his residence.

Mr. Singhal was the Assistant Commissioner in the Ahmedabad Crime branch when Ishrat Jahan and three others — Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali — were killed in a staged encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

According to the CBI FIR, Mr. Singhal played a key role in the encounter.

A stinging report by magistrate S.P. Tamang was the first to term the killing a fake encounter, but the State government sought to reject it outright.

Finally, Ishrat’s mother knocked on the doors of the judiciary, seeking a CBI probe into the killing.

The Ahmedabad Crime Branch had claimed that Ishrat and the others gunned down with her were terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and were out on a mission to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Later, the Gujarat High Court appointed a three-member Special Investigation Team comprising IPS officers R.R. Verma and two Gujarat cadre officers Satish Verma and Mohan Jha. Their report asserted that the encounter was a fake one and the four had been in the custody of the Gujarat Police much before they were murdered in cold blood. Then the High Court put the CBI in charge of the investigation and sought a progress report by March 15.

Mr. Singhal began his career as a Deputy Superintendent of Police, but was promoted to IPS. Following his promotion, he was the District Superintendent of Police of the capital, Gandhinagar.

Subsequently, he was shifted to the State Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) before being moved to the Crime Branch, where he worked under DIG D.G. Vanzara, who is in jail for his involvement in the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, and his name figures in many such encounters, including this one.

In this particular case, Mr. Singhal is reported to have fired at Ishrat, and he is alleged to have threatened witnesses during the investigations.

Twenty of the 21 policemen listed in Mr. Tamang’s report as accused figure in the complaint filed by SIT chairman R.R. Verma. These range from the then Commissioner, K.R. Kaushik (since retired), to a police constable.

Ishrat’s kin attacked

In Mumbai, an attempt was made on the life of Munna Sahil, a relative of Ishrat Jahan, when two bullets were fired at him while he was travelling in his car on Monday.

Two persons approached Sahil’s car on a motorbike, fired at him in Mumbra, and fled. A worker of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Sahil is a builder and owns a hotel. Sahil was in the forefront of a campaign against the Gujarat Police, which had termed Ishrat a terrorist.



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