New Delhi, June 8: The Ishrat Jahan fake encounter theory is collapsing like ninepins. Today the Ministry of Home Ministry refused to sanction prosecution against former Intelligence Bureau officer, Rajinder Kumar on the ground that there was no evidence.
The Central Bureau of Investigation which was directed to probe into the case by the UPA find itself in a difficult position today. Senior Gujarat police officer Vanzara was granted bail in February 2015 while N K Amin another police official was ordered to be released on bail.
Ishrat Jahan and three of her accomplices were killed in an encounter at Gujarat in the year 2004. It was based on intelligence bureau reports that the action was taken by the Gujarat police. As per the report it was stated that she and three others had arrived in Gujarat with an intention of carrying out terror strikes and also targeting Narendra Modi who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat then.
However when the UPA came to power at the centre, it was decided to rake up this case once again and the CBI was brought into the picture. The CBI made several startling claims quoting its own investigation. Among the main claim was that the operation was fake. All through the probe they insisted that Ishrat Jahan was innocent.
The Maharashtra police also came into the picture and proclaimed that there were no pending cases against Ishrat. What the police from Ishrat's home state Maharashtra missed was that terrorists could also have first timers.
While the entire probe became centric around Ishrat, none of the investigtors once said that her associates, Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Gulam Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were innocent. While admitting three of her accomplices were not innocent, the CBI was also not able to tell clearly what Ishrat was doing with them if at all she was innocent.
The Ishrat Jahan case brought out some of the worst days in the history of India's national security set up. The CBI and the IB were at logger heads. The IB being targeted in the form of Rajinder Kumar was never a good sign as the job of an IB official is to share information.
Whether the information is actionable or not is the duty of the police. However when Kumar was questioned by the CBI, the IB took it very badly and the coordination between each other came to a standstill. Many in the IB were even upset with the government of India and the information sharing almost came to a stand still.
When Ajit Doval was appointed the National Security Advisor, his primary job was to bridge this gap. It was never a good sign when two of the country's most premier agencies are at war with each other. Thankfully today the normalcy has been restored.
When proof from Lashkar-e-Tayiba and Headley was not good enough:
When the incident first took place in the year 2004, the Ghazwa Times a Lahore based mouth piece of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba claimed that Ishrat Jahan was their operative. They even commended her sacrifice.
However when the finger was pointed towards Pakistan, the Lashkar's financer and political wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa clarified that it was a journalistic error.
When a team of the National Investigating Agency visited the United States of America to probe David Headley, the 26/11 attack accused, he spoke about Ishrat Jahan. He said during his questioning that he was aware of this person and she was very much part of the Lashkar.
However the NIA never went into that aspect. Sources tell OneIndia that they were under pressure not to probe this link. However for the sake of the public it was said that there was not enough proof in what Headley was saying and hence the angle was never probed.
The NIA had even produced a letter in the Gujarat High Court in May 2011 stating that the aversion made regarding David Colman Headley making statement on Ishrat Jahan is purely in the nature of hearsay, it does not have any evidentiary value."
Twists, turns and the truth:
This case has seen several twists and turns. With one side accusing the police of faking this encounter, the Gujarat government however stood its ground and backed their officers.
The People's Union for Civil Liberties, a human rights' body had said that the Gujarat police did not follow normal procedures in their investigations. No FIR was lodged with the local area police station where the encounter occurred; no chargesheet was filed.
Before the case was handed over to the CBI, a judicial inquiry headed by Metropolitan Magistrate S P Tamang was constituted. The report stated that four persons were killed in police custody. Further, it was stated that some top officers were assured promotions for such fake encounters.
The Gujarat government challenged the report before the high court on the ground that the accused were not accorded an opportunity to present their side of the case. The court stated that the encounter case was of national importance and ordered the police witnesses to be placed where they would not be working as subordinates to officials accused in the case.
A Special Investigating Team was set up and this team told the HC in 2011 that the encounter was fake. The HC ordered that a complaint under Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder) has to be filed against those involved in the fake encounter.
Following this the CBI came into the picture. The agency arrested several officers and even brought IB officer Rajinder Kumar under the radar. The CBI accused the IB officer of providing the weapons which was planted at the encounter spot to make the operation look genuine.
Today the Home Ministry has found that there was no evidence to proceed against Rajinder Kumar and refused to accord sanction to prosecute him.