For over 15 years the specific lobby who tried to call it a ‘fake encounter’, who never believed that Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist rather termed her as ‘Bharat ki beti’ for mere votes, on Wednesday 31st March 2021, fall flat on their face when a special CBI court in Ahmedabad discharged three police officers in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case. The court stated that there was “no question of any fake encounter” and there was “nothing on record to suggest that the victims were not terrorists”. IPS officer G L Singhal, retired police officer Tarun Barot and assistant sub-inspector with State Reserve Police commando Anaju Chaudhary were the last three accused in the case, who filed their discharge applications in March 2020.
They were charged under IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 341, 342, 343 (all for wrongful restraint), 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), 368 (wrongfully concealing or keeping in confinement, kidnapped or abducted person), 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence).
With this order all six-accused police officers out of 7 (Proceedings against J G Parmar was abated following his death in September 2020) who were initially arrested, and charge sheeted by CBI in relation to the alleged fake encounter have been discharged special CBI court.
The court observed “The order is passed with the application of mind and Government has also concluded that the offences committed by the present applicants are such which have been committed while discharging their official duties as police officers and also the investigation against the accused is not proper and there is no evidence against the accused.” Court also pointed that Central Government, Government of Gujarat and Police Agencies of other States had accepted that out of four persons killed in the encounter, two were Pakistani nationals who entered illegally in Indian territory to carry out a massive nefarious terrorist operation including assassination of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Further, the court also noted Ishrat was a LeT operative, which became evident from interrogation of David Headley of the United States of America’s FBI. (when in February 2016, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam gave 3 options and asked to pick the right one, 26/11 scout David Coleman Headley told a special court in Mumbai that Ishrat Jahan was the woman who was killed in an unsuccessful Lashkar-e-Toiba operation in Gujarat. Headley also stated that Lashkar commander Zaki Ur Rehman Lakhvi and military chief Muzammil Bhat were having an argument over a failed operation).
Court further stated that on grounds of concrete and correct information, Gujarat Police was required to keep watch and supervision on the movement and activities of the 4 terrorists. The court noted that “Number of anti-national and terrorist activities were spread all over India, more particularly in Gujarat State. Being high rank police officers, it was their duty to take necessary steps to maintain law and order.”
Court also observed that evidence from Indica’s car made it very clear that information was extremely reliable and correct. “Therefore, these 4 persons were required to be prevented from all these aforesaid activities.” added the Court. These high rank officers were answerable to people as well as the government. Hence, the court held that, “The act which is alleged to have been done by the accused was in discharge of their duties or purported to be in discharge of their duties.” At the end, the court stated that “There is nothing on record even prima facie to suggest that the victims were not terrorists, the I.B. inputs were not genuine”.
Proceedings against the last three officers were dropped and hence trial came to an end, which can only be revived if CBI appeals against the discharge orders, but such chances are negligible. It should also be noted that CBI had not appealed against discharge of previous officers.
19 years old Ishrat Jahan along with, Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, and two others Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, who were said to be Pakistani nationals were killed on June 15, 2004 near Kotarpur waterworks on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, by Ahmedabad City Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) then led by DG Vanzara. DCB claimed that these four worked for LeT and were on a mission to kill then Chief Minister of Gujarat – Narendra Modi. In an FIR, they are identified as LeT fidayeens conspiring to kill then CM Narendra Modi. In a news report published in “Ghazwa Times”, mouthpiece of LeT, the Lashker said “the veil of Ishrat Jahan, a woman activist of LeT, was removed by Indian police and her body was kept with other mujahideens (terrorists) on the ground.”
In August 2004, Ishrat’s mother Shamima Kausar approached Gujarat HC to seek CBI probe and directions to Union of India to provide compensation. In June 2006, investigating officer Parikshita Gurjar, ACP Mahila Cell, Ahmedabad City Crime Branch filed a report before Special Judge, POTA cases, Ahmedabad, concluding that the encounter was genuine and those killed were terrorists. Court orders judicial inquiry by metropolitan magistrate S P Tamang. In August 2009, UPA government at the Centre filed an affidavit in Gujarat High Court responding to Kausar’s allegations of a fake encounter. Gujarat HC ordered a probe by three-member SIT into whether the encounter was genuine or not.
In September 2009, report released by Tamang accused officers of Ahmedabad City Crime Branch of participating in a fake encounter. Gujarat government slammed report, accusing Tamang of overstepping jurisdiction, Gujarat High Court stayed Tamang report on a petition filed by state government, later in September 2009, UPA government filed second affidavit in Gujarat High Court dropping references to Ishrat’s terror links and stated that IB inputs were “not conclusive proof” that the four had terror links. In January 2011, SIT member Satish Verma filed affidavit in Gujarat HC stating that the encounter was fake. In December 2011, Gujarat High Court orders registration of fresh FIR in case and transferred probe to CBI. In July 2013, CBI filed a charge sheet in the special court of Ahmedabad naming seven police officers, including in-charge DGP P P Pandey, IPS officers D G Vanzara (retired), G L Singhal and N K Amin. CBI termed encounter “fake”, stating that it was a joint operation between Gujarat Police and IB. In February 2014, CBI files second charge sheet including IB Special Director Rajendra Kumar, booking him under several IPC sections. Three other IB officers, P Mittal, M K Sinha, and Rajiv Wankhede, were also charged.
In 2018, Pandey, then commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, was discharged from the case. In May 2019, the special CBI court discharged Vanzara and Amin in the case, while Parmar was abated following his death in September 2020. The CBI did not challenge the discharge orders. Shamima Kauser, Ishrat’s mother, opposed the orders at that time. Under section 197 of the CrPC, the government’s sanction is necessary for the prosecution of a public servant for an act done as part of the official duty.
On March 20, the special public prosecutor of CBI submitted a report in which the state government refused to grant permission to prosecute the last three accused in the case. Taking the discharge of other accused into consideration, the discharge orders were passed by the court on March 31 for Singhal, Chaudhari and Barot.
This took almost 17 years, but truth stands tall and vindicated today. But the endless torture these innocent police officers gone through, to protect our Nation will never be forgotten. These officers were the ones who neutralized a terrorist attack, but the political hawks got hold of the situation and termed a LeT terrorist Ishrat as “Desh ki beti”, “shaheed” and what not, even some political leaders called themselves brother of Ishrat Jahan in parliament for some mere votes. The UPA government left no stone unturned to term a counter terror operation as cold-blooded murder. The lobby came out in open to support terrorists and terrorism. They raised slogans like “justice for ishrat”, they named ambulances as “shaheed Ishrat jahan ambulance”, this antinational lobby cried on their death and left no stone unturned to support these filthy terrorists. They harassed and tortured loyal officers, these officers faced horrifying incarceration from political parties for protection. Who is going to compensate for everything? Will these officers get back all those years they spent behind bars? Will the UPA government apologize? The police officers suffered a lot, their families suffered. They lost their bright career. We cannot understand the pain and agony they have been through for protecting us and the Nation. They are the real heroes, and we salute them.