Ending all speculation about a few probable names that were being tossed about as likely to figure in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s supplementary charge sheet, Thursday threw a surprise of sorts in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The second charge sheet filed before the special CBI court names former special director of Intelligence Bureau, Rajinder Kumar, and three other officers for murder and conspiracy.
The investigating agency’s charge sheet is, however, conspicuous by its silence on Amit Shah, then junior home minister and a close aide of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Shah’s name does not figure in the list despite the allegations made against him by GL Singhal as well as the probe body’s questioning him in the case. In a turn of events, the 200-page supplementary charge sheet has named Rajinder Kumar, a 1979-batch IPS officer, as a conspirator and murderer in the case and also charged three other IB officers — P Mittal, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede — of kidnapping, conspiracy and illegal confinement of the victims.
Interestingly, in the first charge sheet filed in the case in July 2013, the investigating agency had detailed the role played by Kumar — then joint director of IB – but did not press any charges against him.
However, in its second charge sheet, the CBI has charged Kumar under section 302 (amounting to murder) read with 120B (conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code as well as for kidnapping, illegal confinement and illegal concealment.
Additionally he has also been charged under Arms Act with CBI alleging that the former IB official had provided arms to the accused, a day prior to the encounter.
According to the CBI, Rajinder Kumar had provided arms and ammunition to GL Singhal of Gujarat Police on June 14, 2004, a day before the encounter took place, who, then passed those to Tarun Barot through constable Nizammudin Saiyad. The arms were then used in executing the crime.
The second charge sheet has added 70 witnesses taking the total to 249 in the case.
When asked why Amit Shah’s name is missing from the charge sheet, CBI’s special counsel, Ejaz Khan said: “I cannot say why it is missing. I can only say that we have not named him in the supplementary charge sheet filed today.”
However, in its wake, the exclusion was seen as a major relief not only for the BJP general secretary, but also for the party in general and its prime ministerial contender in particular ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
CBI maintained that IB and Gujarat police connived to eliminate Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar in an alleged fake encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. Police had then claimed the four were terrorists on a mission to kill Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. However, according to the CBI’s first charge sheet, the encounter was a joint operation by Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau, and was stage-managed.
With the supplementary charge sheet, the investigating agency neither confirmed closure of investigation, nor informed that further investigation is on. “We have not concluded in the charge sheet about the progress of investigation. You cannot say that investigation is complete or is underway,” Khan said.
Meanwhile, the agency has also requested the court to include an additional charge under Sec193 of IPC against retired deputy superintendent of police, JG Parmar (already charge sheeted). According to CBI, Parmar fabricated evidences during the investigation as he forced a garage owner to create a fake bill for repairing of a blue-coloured Indica car used in the crime.
CBI sources said that the matter was still under investigation and also mentioned that the agency was filing the charge sheet without any sanction of prosecution by the Law ministry.
What was in 1st charge sheet?
CBI had charged eight accused, including GL Singhal, for murder, conspiracy and abduction apart from other offences. It said killing of Ishrat and 3 others was an overt operation carried out jointly by Gujarat Police and the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB).
Ishrat and Javed were abducted from the Vasad toll booth in Anand on June 12, 2004, by DySP NK Amin and Tarun Barot with help of SIB official duo, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede. They were then brought to Khodiyar farm off SG Road owned by one KS Desai. Vanzara and Rajinder Kumar interrogated them and also planned how to eliminate them two days prior to the encounter. The FIR was drafted by PP Pandey and Vanzara on June 14 and they left some blank spaces in it to be filled up later with some more details.
Singhal had collected the weapons which were planted on the deceased from the SIB office and sent them to Tarun Barot through crime branch constable Nizamuddin Saiyad. Saiyad and Avinashkumar Vishwanathsinh guarded Ishrat and Javed at Khodiyar farm.
The other 2 deceased, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, were already kept in illegal confinement at Arham Farm and Gota Housing colony, respectively.
The four were brought to the Kotarpur water works in separate vehicles on June 14 midnight. Crime branch officials, including Singhal, also reached the spot around 4 am. The deceased were kept near the road divider and Amin, Barot, Mohan Kalaswa and Anaju Chaudhry opened fire upon them from their service weapons. Barot and Amin snatched away weapons of IK Chauhan and others and opened fire again upon the deceased as well as the car. Amjad was brought blindfolded to the spot by PI BA Patel in a Qualis car.
All eight police officers named in the first charge sheet are in jail. However, the latest accused, former IB officer Rajinder Kumar, has not yet been arrested. The CBI court can summon him and order his arrest. “We have not demanded the arrest of Kumar. During investigation too, it was not required. By submitting the charge sheet, we have demanded the court to issue process of the same. The court can order his arrest,” said CBI counsel Ejaz Khan.
The supplementary charge sheet was filed before CBI judge HS Khutwad, who accepted the 200-page charge sheet and other related documents. He ordered to verify the charge sheet which will be done on Friday. After the verification, a copy of the same may be provided to prosecution and accused.