The CBI on Thursday charged former Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau Rajinder Kumar with murder and criminal conspiracy in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case but left out Amit Shah, a close aide of Narendra Modi, who was under the scanner in the case.
Shah, who was Minister of State for Home during the sensational killing of Ishrat, a girl from Mumbra near Mumbai, and three alleged LeT activists in June 2004, is an accused in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case. The CBI went ahead and filed the charge sheet against Kumar and three other IB officers despite law ministry's denial of sanction to prosecute them.
Besides Kumar, a 1979 batch IPS officer who retired last year, those named in the charge sheet are P Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede. In the supplementary charge sheet, Kumar has been charged under sections 302 (murder), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 364 (kidnapping in order to murder), 346, 364 & 368 (wrongful confinement) of IPC, besides sections 3, 25 (A) and 29 of the Arms Act.
Identical charges have been levelled against other three IB officers barring that of murder. In the charge sheet filed in the court or Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate HS Kutwad, who took cognizance of the charges, CBI has said the IB officers had conspired to eliminate the victims, kidnapped them and held them in illegal confinement before the killings. It said Kumar had supplied arms and ammunition used in the crime to another accused IPS officer Girish Singhal to be handed over to Deputy SP Tarun Barot.
The agency has also requested the court to slap an additional charge under Section 193 of IPC against retired Deputy Superintendent of Police J G Parmar, already charge sheeted in the case. This section deals with punishment for intentionally giving false evidence in a judicial proceeding or fabricating false evidence for the purpose of being used at any stage of judicial process. The CBI alleged that Parmar had concealed the fact that he had kept the car with him in which the four -- Ishrat Jahan, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar -- were killed.
In its its first charge sheet filed in the case on July 3 last year, CBI had named the four officers but not identified them as suspects, while terming the encounter as fake and a joint operation by IB and Gujarat Police. IPS officers D G Vanzara, P P Pandey, Girish Singhal, besides Barot, N K Amin, J G Parmar and Anaju Chaudhary had been named as accused. The CBI had said Ishrat and others were in the custody of Gujarat police before being killed and, in fact, she and Javed had been interrogated by Rajinder Kumar at a farm house on the outskirts of city where they were in confinement. All the four were taken to the encounter spot near Kotarpur Waterworks blind-folded before being shot dead in cold blood, CBI had said.
The charge sheet had also said there was no evidence that they had come to Gujarat to kill Modi, as claimed by the state police. Vanzara, a 1987 batch IPS officer, in jail in connection with several alleged fake encounter killing cases, had last year tendered his resignation which was not accepted. In his resignation letter, he had accused Modi of failing to protect jailed police officers who fought against "Pakistan-inspired terrorism" and claimed he was just following the "conscious policy of the state government".
The exclusion of Shah, BJP general secretary and Modi's pointsman in the key state of Uttar Pradesh, from the charge sheet would come as a big relief for the party and its prime ministerial contender ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Ishrat (19), Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an alleged fake encounter on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
Gujarat police had then claimed that the four with links to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba had come to the city to kill Modi. Meanwhile, a lawyer for the victims Shamshad Pathan said they would file a fresh application seeking further investigation in the case if the supplementary charge sheet was the final one to be submitted by CBI. "Amit Shah was in contact with officers accused in the case both before and after the encounter. We will file a fresh application under the law and seek further investigation," he said.
Rauf Lala, an uncle of Ishrat expressed "surprise" at the non-inclusion of Shah's name in the charge sheet. "It is good that those who executed the crime have been charged, but what about those who were behind the conspiracy. The policemen did not benefit from the crime. Who were the beneficiaries? They need to be exposed and only then our quest and the purpose of justice will be served," he said. "CBI has not investigated what Vanzara hinted at in his letter. These things need to be probed. We will certainly seek further investigation," he said.