In a series of police encounters during 2002-06, purportedly to bust plots to assassinate then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, and other BJP leaders, the Ishrat Jahan case was the only one in which four officials of the Intelligence Bureau were implicated, including the then special director of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau Rajinder Kumar. The CBI which investigated case, said the encounter was the outcome of a conspiracy between the IB and Gujarat police officials.
Nineteen year old Khalsa College student of Mumbra, Ishrat Jahan was killed along with Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai from Kerala, and two alleged Pakistanis — Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana — on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad for allegedly conspiring to kill Modi.
The encounter team was led by DG Vanzara, who was then deputy commissioner of police in the Ahmedabad Crime Branch.
The case was handed over to the CBI after an investigation by an SIT appointed by Gujarat High Court said it was a fake encounter.
Satish Verma, the IPS officer from Gujarat who assisted the SIT in its probe was later charge-sheeted by the Gujarat government, for absenteeism at Junagadh police training college where he was posted.
An SIT appointed by the Gujarat government in 2012 on directions from the Gujarat High Court, investigated an encounter of 1996 in Porbandar when Verma was SP of the district and found it to be fake. Verma, who was held responsible for the encounter of Jasu Gagan, as SP of Porbandar then, challenged the case before the Supreme Court where it is pending.
He is currently posted as chief vigilance officer of the North-Eastern Electric Power Corporation in Shillong.
The CBI filed chargesheets against seven police officers including three from the Gujarat cadre IPS, and four IB officials in the Ishrat encounter case.
Currently, all seven police officers who were charge-sheeted are out on bail. Vanzara and DSPs Tarun Barot and JG Parmar have retired while the then joint commissioner of the crime branch and Vanzara’s boss, PP Pandey was promoted as DGP last year while GL Singhal has been promoted as DIG and NK Amin was recently posted as Superintendent of Police of Mahisagar district.
The CBI and the IB have been at loggerheads since the premier investigating agency sought sanction from the Ministry of Home Affairs to prosecute the IB officials. The IB placed before the Supreme Court papers in sealed covers reportedly proving Jahan’s involvement, last year, procured from FBI’s investigation of David Headley.
The MHA, last year, denied permission for the prosecution and since then the case has not moved in the CBI trial court in Ahmedabad.
Even if, as per Headley’s testimony to the Mumbai court, Ishrat was a terrorist, the Gujarat High Court, when handing over the case to the CBI had clearly said that the probe should be based on whether the killing was a genuine or a staged encounter.