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Two police officers, including D G Vanzara, were granted conditional bail by a special CBI court in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case on Thursday. The decision came as a relief for retired IPS officer Vanzara, who has spent more than seven years in jail since his arrest in 2007 in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, in which he got bail earlier.
The other officer to get bail is suspended Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) P P Pandey, the senior most officer arrested so far, who was in jail for more than a year.
Pandey was released at around 2:30 pm, however, the formalities for Vanzara couldn’t be completed and he is likely to walk out on Friday. Although Vanzara will be confined to Mumbai, his family compared the event to “Diwali”. Vanzara’s supporters burst firecrackers at the court premises to celebrate the order. Vanzara’s son Prithviraj said, “The decision is like Diwali for us.”
Pandey’s son Vivek said, “We are happy to have him back. We struggled a lot to see this day.” Vanzara published three books during his confinement while Pandey was writing his PhD thesis in jail.
The court blamed the CBI for this delay in processing the sanction while granting bail. “The court has observed if the supplementary chargesheet is pending under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) then what is the reason for keeping these people (Pandey, Vanzara) behind the bars. Court has given the bail on the grounds of parity also,” Vanzara’s lawyer V D Gajjar told The Indian Express.
College student Ishrat Jahan, Pranesh Pillai, alias Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed in an alleged staged encounter by a Crime Branch team on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city on June 15, 2005.
Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Sheikh, alias Pranesh Pillai, said it was very sad that Vanzara and Pandey were granted bail.
“The BJP is ruling the country. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Gujarat CM and BJP national president Amit Shah was home minister at the time of the fake encounter. Now, they want to protect the police officials involved in the issue… I will continue the legal battle,” he said.
The court order stated that the antecedents of deceased persons having “nexus with terrorists” have not been disputed by the CBI. It also warned both the accused officers “not to commit a similar crime again”. Pandey has been asked to deposit his passport while Vanzara has been asked to leave Gujarat and stay in Mumbai.
The CBI chargesheet accused Vanzara and Pandey as conspirators who discussed the modalities of carrying out the encounter.
A year ago, the CBI had filed the supplementary chargesheet against four IB officials, including its former special director Rajinder Kumar, Rajiv Wankhede, T Mittal and Mukul Sinha. The chargesheet remains pending before the CBI court awaiting sanction from the Centre to prosecute the IB officials.