The Gujarat government has revoked the suspension of IPS officer G L Singhal, accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case. Singhal also features in the so-called ‘snooping’ tapes, in which he is purportedly in conversation with senior BJP leader Amit Shah.
Singhal had sought reinstatement in February, and the government, after reviewing the case, has ordered “not to extend his suspension”. The officer’s suspension was revoked on Tuesday, and he was reinstated with effect from May 16, the day the election results were declared, and the model code of conduct was lifted.
Singhal will resume work after more than a year from Monday, as superintendent of police, State Reserve Police, Gandhinagar under the Armed Units. Additional chief secretary, Home, S K Nanda, said, “Since he is out on bail in the case, his suspension has been revoked, and he has been put back in the department as per the rule.”
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The Gujarat government letter says Singhal’s “period of suspension will be regularised after the outcome of the criminal case which is pending before the CJM (Chief Judicial Magistrate) court and special CBI court”. The order seeks compliance of the conditions of his bail.
Singhal, who made startling revelations to the CBI in the Ishrat case, also gave to investigators, as part of evidence, two pen drives containing 267 voice recordings, including those that suggested the illegal surveillance of a woman under orders from the then Gujarat minister of state for home, Shah, allegedly acting at the behest of his “Saheb”.
After two New Delhi-based news portals made public the alleged conversations between Shah and Singhal, the woman’s father said the “surveillance” was intended for his daughter’s security, and carried out with her knowledge. The case is under probe by a commission of inquiry set up by the Gujarat government.
Singhal sent his request for revocation of suspension on February 18, 12 days after CBI filed its final chargesheet in the Ishrat case, naming four officials of the Intelligence Bureau, including retired special director Rajinder Kumar.
The Gujarat home department sought a report from Director General of Police P C Thakur who, on April 19, wrote back, “CBI could not file the chargesheet against Shri G L Singhal within 90 days and therefore he has got the advantage of default bail and at present he is not under any custody.”
CBI arrested Singhal in February 2013 along with other police officers including his seniors P P Pandey and D G Vanzara, and DSP Tarun Barot. Singhal, who was posted at the State Crime Records Bureau in Gandhinagar as SP when he was arrested, resigned days later, and went on to allege that the encounter had been faked.
Singhal, who was said to have been upset by his teenage son Hardik committing suicide in July 2012, told CBI that he had disagreed with his seniors on killing Mumbra college girl Ishrat.
“My differences were basically on two points. One, the motive in the draft FIR mentioned a plan to kill the Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi, but this was wrong. Since I had interrogated Amjadali, I knew the motive was different. Two, I had serious objections to killing the girl, Ishrat. I had said we let her go, and had promised to ensure that she would not spill the beans about this operation to anyone. Despite my strong objections, Vanzara insisted on keeping the motive involving the Chief Minister and on killing the girl and branding her later as a woman terrorist,” Singhal said in his statement to interrogators.
Besides Ishrat, her friend Pranesh Pillai alias Javed Sheikh, and two Pakistanis, Amjadali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, were killed by the Gujarat Police in 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad. The police claimed they were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives aiming to assassinate then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Singhal told The Indian Express, “The reason I asked for my reinstatement was that my resignation was never accepted by the government. I was neither in nor out of the department. Therefore, I asked the government to take me back.”