Ishrat Jahan encounter: Advocate not happy with SIT members

    By Staff Reporter,

    Ahmedabad: Senior advocate Mukul Sinha fighting the alleged fake encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others has expressed his unhappiness over the police officials included in a three member Special Investigation Team (SIT) for a fresh investigation into the genuineness of the encounter that took place in June 2004.

    The police officials were selected from among the list of high ranking officials of the level of additional director general of police by Justice K S Zhaveri of the Gujarat High Court on Thursday. A list of 13 ADGs was submiited by the state government.

    Sinha insisted that the members of the probe team formed on the pattern of the Supeme Court-appointed SIT probing the 10 most heinous cases of 2002 anti-Muslim riots, be selected on the basis of their seniority.

    But Justice Zhaveri rejected his proposal saying that the team would be conducting probe under the supervision of the high court and if the complainant Shamima Kausar or her advocate found any fault in the investigation at any stage they were free to report to the high court and the latter reserved the right to change any of the team members at any stage.

    Sinha wanted the seniormost ADG Chitranjan Singh, a Sikh, to be included in the team to instill a sense of confidence in her complainant. He also wanted inclusion of Kuldip Sharma, immediate junior to Singh, in the team. Sharma enjoys the image of being one of the most liberal and independent police officers in the Gujarat police. However, his suggestions were not accepted.

    Instead, the court nominated Pramod Kumar, Special Inspector General of Police, Vadodara Range, as head of the SIT with Shivanand Jha, Special IGP, Surat Range and J K Bhatt, IGP of Gandhinagar Range, as its members.
    What is worrying Sinha is the low credibility of the team members, particularly, among Muslims. Jha has been named as one of the 63 accused in the Zakia Jafri vs State of Gujarat case, holding Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, among others, responsible for 2002 anti-Muslim riots. The case is being investigated by by Supreme Court-appointed SIT headed by former CBI director R K Raghavan.

    As for Bhatt, he was one of the police officials who investigated the Sabarmati train carnage case and slapped POTA on the Godhra accused, saying the incident was a conspiracy and organized crime. But the Gujarat high court subsequently rejected POTA charges saying there was no evidence to show the incident was a conspiracy and ordered trial under IPC.

    It was again Bhatt who detained more than a dozen activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in connection with a blast outside a mosque at Modasa in which a Muslim boy was killed during last Ramazan. The Modasa blast was reported to be linked with Malegaon blast in which Sadhvi Pragya Singh and a few others, including an Indian Army official were arrested. However, no breakthrough has so far been made in Modasa blast.

    Pramod Kumar is also reported to be close to the ruling party politicians in the state.

    Ishrat and three others, including her husband Javed Pillai and two others – Akbar Ali and Zeeshan – were gunned down by police on June 15, 2004, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

    The police had claimed that the deceased were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to kill Modi. However, two of the officials-DG Vanzara and Dr.Narendra Amin- involved in Ishrat’s encounter are currently in jail in connection with the killings of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi. The Supreme Court two days ago ordered the state government to pay an interim compensation of Rs. 10 lakh to Sohrabuddin’s kin.