After the Ishrat Jahan controversy,the 2003 Sadiq Jamal Mehtar fake encounter case has landed at the doorstep of the Intelligence Bureau,with the CBI recently questioning two IB officials for their alleged role in handing over Sadiq to the Gujarat police.
While the CBI has maintained that it would probe the IB angle in the case,the investigation had largely revolved around the Gujarat Police and those involved in the encounter. Here again,doubts were raised on the intelligence input that Sadiq may have been plotting the assassination of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Rajendra Kumar,the IB head in Gujarat and now under the scanner in the Ishrat case,is also slated to be questioned in the case with the CBI planning to press ahead with the investigations over the next couple of months.
It is learnt that the CBI may not formally arrest Kumar for now as he retires next month,but is likely to revisit the situation after July 31. Moreover,sources said,he is so far cooperating with the investigations after a decision was taken at the highest levels that the CBI probe must move unhindered.
But more than the Ishrat case,its the Sadiq Jamal case that has the agency worried,because the investigations are likely to go beyond Kumar and bring into question the role of other IB officials.
While the focus has been on the veracity of the intelligence alert on Sadiq,the main problem relates to the circumstances under which Sadiq reached Gujarat. From what has emerged so far,sources said,it appears that Sadiq had already been taken into custody in Mumbai when he landed from Dubai,well before the encounter.
The allegation was that he had joined the Dawood Ibrahim gang,was indoctrinated to become a terrorist and then sent on this mission to kill Modi and other prominent leaders including then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani.
But the limited issue in the investigation is that if the IB,with the help of the local police,had picked up Sadiq,then why was he handed over to the Gujarat police? Its this crucial gap that the CBI has to close because custodial transfer has to be done with good justification. Reliable sources indicate that this handing over was done without a fuss,raising suspicion on the role of IB officials.
Sadiq,a 25-year-old from Bhavnagar,was killed in an encounter on January 13,2003,in the Naroda area of Ahmedabad. The police claimed they were acting on a central agency tip-off and opened fire only in self defence. Sadiqs brother Shabbir later filed a petition claiming that he had been murdered in cold blood.
The Gujarat High Court saw some merit in his claim and asked the CBI to probe the matter. The agency filed its first chargesheet last December in which eight police officials were named for staging a fake encounter. In a recent hearing,CBI said its probing the role of other officials including those from the IB.
Sadiq,who apparently did have a mention in police records,had first moved to Mumbai and then to Dubai. He later found himself mentioned in an intelligence alert that was probably based on some association of his employers with the underworld.