Intelligence officers work discreetly. Because they deal with sensitive stuff under conditions of extreme secrecy. This veil of secrecy fell in the case of now Special Director in the Intelligence Bureau,Rajinder Kumar,the 1979 batch Manipur-Tripura cadre officer who is due to retire at the end of this month.
Posted in Gujarat as Joint director (Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau) between 2001 and 2005,intel inputs sourced from Kumar’s office have been hotly debated in Gujarat police circles,since the burning of the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train on February 27,2002,when an intelligence report attributed to his office was quoted as blaming the ISI for the incident in which 59 passengers,mostly kar sevaks,were killed,sparking off riots across the state. The ISI conspiracy was not established and at least 63 of the accused,booked then under POTA,were acquitted and 31 convicted.
From 2002 to 2005,Gujarat saw at least four encounter killings in which eight people were killed reportedly on basis of intelligence alerts which said that they were plotting to kill chief minister Narendra Modi. Apparently,none of these were either corroborated by or communicated to the Gujarat intelligence wing which is the CID (intelligence).
Though there is no protocol on how intelligence is shared,an officer posted then in the CID (intelligence),told The Indian Express,none of these inputs were shared with us,the IB official used to speak directly with Ahmedabad police officials.
The Ishrat Jahan encounter case is the first where CBI will probe the roles of Rajinder Kumar and three other IB officials.
The role of the IB surfaced when the Central government,in an attempt to defend its officers,filed an affidavit before the Gujarat high court,in August 2009,placing on record on the LeT connections of Ishrat Jahan,Javed Shaikh,Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana,who were killed by the Gujarat police on June 15,2004. This affidavit by then under secretary RVS Mani in the ministry of home affairs quoted the mouthpiece of Lashkar e Toiba,’Ghazwa Times’ purportedly owning up Ishrat and referring to her dead colleagues as “mujahideens”. The affidavit also claimed evidence on Javed Shaikh’s alleged links with LeT operative Muzammil to carry out terrorist actions in Gujarat. Mani’s affidavit also gave detailed evidence on Johar and Rana’s Pakistani identity.
Caught on the back foot after an inquiry by metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang exposed the encounter to be fake,Mani,on behalf of the MHA filed another affidavit the following month (September 2009),in the Gujarat high court,stating that his earlier affidavit had been needlessly misinterpreted. He said that the affidavit did not deal with merits or otherwise of the police action but was only concerned with the fact that the inputs gathered by the Indian Security Agencies and their efforts were not discredited. The CBI is investigating the exact nature of these inputs and how they were used to justify the killings.
Retired DGP Sreekumar first brought Rajinder Kumar’s name on record in 2005,when he submitted an affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah commission which said,Strangely,Shri Rajendrakumar,(Rajinder) the then Joint Director,Central IB (Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau,Ahmedabad) had come out with the theory of ISI conspiracy behind Godhra incident within hours of the incident…. He gave similar testimony against Kumar before the Justice UC Banerjee Commission probing the Godhra train burning case.
Sreekumar who was posted in the IB for 13 years before returning to Gujarat,was chief of the Gujarat intelligence branch from April- September 2002.