Ishrat Jahan encounter was staged: SIT member

Mumbai-based Ishrat Jahan was killed in an encounter along with Javed Ghulam Sheikh, Amjad Ali alias and Jisan Johar Abdul on June 15, 2004.

Ahmedabad: Giving a new twist to the Ishrat
Jahan case, Satish Verma, a member of the Special
Investigation Team, on Friday claimed before the Gujarat High
Court that the 2004 killings could have taken place in a fake

Verma, a senior IPS officer, who is part of the
three-member probe team set up by the high court last year,
also said that a second FIR with regard to the encounter needs
to be filed.
In an affidavit filed before a division bench of Justices
Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari, the IPS officer said, "The
illustrative evidence brings out well founded allegation of a
fake encounter. This is different from the version contained
in the FIR".

He enumerates various pieces of scientific evidence that
go against the version in the FIR filed by the city crime
branch after the encounter of Ishrat and three others -- Javed
Ghulam Sheikh alias Pranesh Kumar Pillai, Amjad Ali alias
Rajkumar Akbar Ali Rana and Jisan Johar Abdul Gani -- on June
15, 2004.

"The reply of the panel of doctors, who conducted the
postmortem ... shows that the paths of many bullets inside the
bodies of the deceased persons are not consistent with the FIR
version of the incident," he said.

The court appointed advocate Y S Lakhani as amicus curiae
in the case and asked the SIT members to maintain discipline
after differences among them came to fore.

Verma`s affidavit states that bullet of the 9mm caliber
weapon recovered from the body of Ali Rana, and twisted parts
of 9mm caliber bullets recovered from Ishrat`s body, do not
match with any police weapon used during the encounter.

The eight cartridge cases of 9mm caliber recovered from
the car of the deceased persons do not match with the two
9mm caliber pistols recovered from the car itself, he says,
adding that neither do the cases match with police weapon.

Verma said there were other infirmities in the police
FIR. He said though the FIR mentions an intelligence input
received by the city Commissioner of Police, there is no
record of any such inputs.

Also, there was no attempt to stop the vehicle in which
the deceased were travelling by the officers at check-posts
along the road, the affidavit said.

A police vehicle with an officer and his subordinate kept
following Ishrat and her companion`s vehicle for over 20 km.

No alert was given to state police control, or the
nearest city police station and no wireless message was sent.
Also, the logbook entries of many of the police vehicles used
during the encounter do not square with the time of the
incident, he contended.
During the hearing today, Verma told the High Court that
"there are two possibilities in the case; one is that four
people (who got) killed in the encounter had come to kill
Gujarat Chief Minister (Narendra Modi), and the other is that
they were killed in cold blood by the police".

"There is a possibility of the second one (having taken
place) irrespective of the first one," he told the High Court.

Verma also raised legal issues related to the
investigation, saying no member of SIT can impose restrictions
on investigation powers and duties of his colleagues.

"There can be either controlled investigation or dynamic
progressive investigation...investigation cannot be controlled
from every point you cannot get prior approvals, as
it defeats the purpose of investigation," he said.

SIT head Karnail Singh told the court today that "there
is absence of chain of command and model code of conduct in
the SIT. The power of SIT members needs to be defined. I am
facing number of difficulties which cannot be discussed in the
open court".

After hearing both Verma and Singh, Court asked the
SIT members to work as a team and maintain discipline.

The High Court also said that since the case was of
national importance, the SIT should strive to unearth the

It further said that if there is difference of opinion,
SIT members should get together and sort it out like
`responsible officers` before coming to the court.

"If everybody files application for difference of
opinion, how is the investigation going to proceed? Please act
in a manner so that we achieve the objective of the SIT," the
court said.

The division bench also made it clear that Singh was the
chairman of the SIT and two other officers, Mohan Jha and
Satish Verma were members, hence subordinate to him.

"Decisions should be taken after discussion with all the
members. If any member of SIT expresses dissenting views, it
would be open for the SIT chief to proceed in accordance with
law," the court said, adding that however, dissenting view
should be noted.

It also ordered the SIT to submit a progress report every
two months.


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