On the eve of the Parliament session, Opposition Congress Sunday made it clear that it will not be on the defensive on the Ishrat Jahan issue. Having faced a belligerent attack from the BJP, the party hit back, raking up the contents of the CBI’s 2013 chargesheet in the case and claimed that the testimony of a Gujarat police officer in it shows that the encounter killings had the prior approval of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Congress fielded a battery of senior leaders and legal minds to take on the BJP on Sunday. Referring to the BJP’s attack on the Ishrat Jahan affidavit issue, Kapil Sibal said, “This web of deceit and deception is being woven by the government and certain sections of media to save the skin of Prime Minister Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.” He read out portions of the statement by D H Goswami, the then Deputy SP, made under Section 164 of the CrPC.
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Sibal said Goswami had mentioned in his statement about a meeting at the office of the Joint Commissioner of Police in Ahmedabad in which D G Vanzara, SIB officer Rajinder Kumar and P P Pandey were present days before the encounter. Goswami had claimed that he heard the officers talking about some LeT operation and Kumar asking Vanzara to talk to the Chief Minister about it. Goswami had quoted Vanzara as telling Kumar that he would talk to ‘safed dadhi’ (white beard) and ‘kali dadhi’ (black beard).
Goswami had also talked about a second meeting along with police officer G L Singhal the next day. He had claimed that Vanzara had told Singhal he had the approval of the Chief Minister and Home Minister. This statement, Sibal said, is corroborated by a statement under Section 161 CrPC of Kishorsinh Vaghela, another Deputy SP.
“A statement under section 164 of Cr PC is admissible in evidence per se. In case, Ishrat Jahan trial was to proceed, it is inevitable that the PM and BJP president would be summoned as accused. It is, therefore, obvious that present tsunami of misinformation is to save the then CM of Gujarat and the then MoS (Home), Gujarat from appearing before the sessions court as accused… The killing happened in 2004 and chargesheet was filed by the CBI in 2014. We are in 2016 now and why the trial is not going forward. The reason is clear,” Sibal said. He demanded completion of the trial in the next six months. He said all the seven accused in the case are out on bail and one among them, P P Pandey, is the acting DGP of Gujarat. Congress played out a purported taped conversation between Pandey and Singhal. It claimed that the two were discussing about offering judgeship to a counsel of the central government. Sibal alleged that two Gujarat officershad been given posting in the CBI in Delhi to influence the probe. Party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said all these issues would be raised in Parliament because the BJP was trying to defame the Congress.