Escalating its confrontation with the Intelligence Bureau in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the CBI on Thursday charged former top IB official Rajinder Kumar with murder and criminal conspiracy.
The CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet against Kumar, who was the IB’s special director, and three other IB officers without waiting for the opinion of the Attorney General on whether it needed government approval to prosecute them. But it left out Amit Shah, Gujarat’s then minister of state for home and a close aide of Narendra Modi, who was suspected to have played a role in the case. Shah’s exclusion is expected to come as a big relief to the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections as he is a party general secretary and Modi’s pointsman in Uttar Pradesh.
A 1979-batch IPS officer who retired last year, Kumar has been charged under sections 302 (murder), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 364 (kidnapping in order to murder), 346, 364 and 368 (wrongful confinement) of IPC, besides sections 3, 25 (A) and 29 of the Arms Act.
His former colleagues T Mittal, M K Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede have also been charged with the same crimes barring murder. The CBI has accused the intelligence officers of conspiring to eliminate 19-year-old Ishrat and the three alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives who were with her, kidnapping them and holding them in illegal confinement before they were killed.
Kumar is named as the main accused in the supplementary chargesheet, which runs into more than 200 pages. It says he was instrumental in getting three of the four victims abducted, illegally confined at Khodiyar Farm on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and killed in the encounter. It also alleges Kumar supplied arms and ammunition for the crime to another accused IPS officer, Girish Singhal, to be handed over to deputy SP Tarun Barot. The chargesheet was submitted in the CBI court of H S Khutwad and the CBI counsel, Ejaz Khan informed the court it was a continuation of the first chargesheet filed against seven Gujarat police officers last July.
Khan told the court that apart from the chargesheet against the four IB officers, retired DSP J G Parmar has been charged with giving false evidence since he was the complainant in the original FIR in the case registered by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) against the four killed in the encounter. 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 June 2004.
The IB officers had been named in the first chargesheet filed by the CBI but were not called suspects. The agency has said that the alleged fake encounter was jointly executed by the IB and the Gujarat Police. IPS officers D G Vanzara, P P Pandey, Girish Singhal, besides Barot, N K Amin, Parmar and Anaju Chaudhary were named as accused in the first chargesheet.
Ishrat, her friend Javed, Zeeshan and Amjad were killed by Gujarat Police officers on June 15, 2004. The officers claimed they were killed in an encounter and that they were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to kill Modi. However, the CBI has in its main chargesheet said their investigation found nothing to suggest the four had come to kill Modi. Two earlier probes – by a judicial magistrate and by a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Gujarat High Court – had concluded that the encounter was a fake one. The magistrate had said the officers killed the four to get promotions and laurels.