The Ishrat Jahan encounter case stands today on a strong footing because of a major contribution by one police officer – Satish Verma – the inspector general of police who claimed on Tuesday before the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that the state government planned to “wrongfully harm him” because of his disclosures in the Ishrat Jahan probe. Verma defied his colleagues in the Gujarat high court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to dig out evidence that had been pushed under the carpet in this case and proved the killings to be staged. Related: Ishrat,Javed kidnapped by IB men,says CBI
The 1986 batch IPS officer faced the brunt of the State Government since this feat,especially after he got legal clearance to assist the CBI in the probe that was to end up nailing his own colleagues in the Gujarat police. His name was suggested by petitioners in the case,Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar and Javed Shaikh’s father Gopinatha Pillai.
Verma while heading the Gujarat High Court appointed special investigation team (SIT) was the first officer who filed an affidavit in the Gujarat High Court in January 2011 terming the encounter fake. In the same petition,Verma had dropped a bombshell in the case saying that witnesses in the case were being pressurised to retract by co- SIT member Mohan Jha.
This was Verma’s first tussle with the State Government where he was severely criticized and faced allegations of supporting ‘a Muslim terrorist’.
However,Verma went ahead and recorded statements of some key witnesses in the case that testified Ishrat and Javed were illegally abducted from Vasad (Anand) and brought to Ahmedabad. They were later held captive in Arham farmhouse in Gandhinagar and killed early on June 15,2004. However,his fight within the SIT added to his troubles. After Verma accused Jha of threatening witnesses to retract,he pressed for psychoanalysis of the witnesses. Related: Rajinder Kumar – the game changer
His biggest move was raiding the forensic science laboratory in Ahmedabad to seize a hard disk containing old original photographs of the encounter case. It was the same photographs that helped SIT find out that the bodies of victims that were riddled with AK 56 bullet wounds also had 9mm wounds fired from revolvers at close range- this turned the case upside down.
Verma called for Central Forensic Science Laboratory and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for the reconstruction of the encounter that fixed accused cop Girish Singhal and his colleague NK Amin,both then assistant CPs with the crime branch. Singhal and Amin who said they had fired from a distance,could not justify the original photographs which showed close range shots and difference in measurements of bullet wounds than AK 56 wounds on the bodies. Verma had termed the forensic science raids as,a friendly pat on their back.
However,when the CFSL refused to accept the difference,Verma sent the reconstruction report and photographs to an engineering college in Berkley (USA) that CFSL recording were erroneous. Verma’s close investigation based on forensic,scientific evidences and witness testimonies gave a clean chit to Ishrat while police records were found against Javed and two alleged Pakistanis Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar.
As a co-investigator with CBI,Verma has aided the CBI in recording testimonies of important witnesses. Verma had also grilled suspended cop N K Amin and G L Singhal in CBI custody; while Amin levied allegations of torture on Verma,Singhal testified against IB top cop Rajinder Kumar and PP Pandey. The CBI investigations have taken complete cognizance of Verma’s probe specially to nail the encounter cops PP Pandey,GL Singhal and NK Amin.
When Verma got on the Ishrat case,he was joint commissioner (traffic) in Ahmedabad city,and within 16 months he was shunted to Police Training College in Junagadh in April 2012- his third stint with PTC.
However soon after his term with PTC began Gujarat HC ordered him to assist CBI. His assistance to CBI was such tremendous that the agency had sought his extension twice to continue getting his guidance in the probe. His assistance to CBI had allegedly become a threat to absconding cop Pandey who had expressed his apprehension to appear before CBI till Verma continues to assist. The same threat was expressed by Singhal when Verma filed his affidavit in HC seeking CBI investigation but not Verma investigation in SIT. He finished his term with CBI on June 24 and was repatriated to State Police however his posting believed to be ‘punishment posting’ continues at the PTC.