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SC notice to Gujarat CM in fake encounter case

September 03, 2008 20:13 IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Gujarat government and Chief Minister Narender Modi -- on a petition seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into an alleged fake encounter -- in which a youth was killed in 2004.

The petition filed by Kerala-based M R Gopinath Pillai alleged that his son Pranesh Kumar Pillai alias Javed Shaikh was gunned down by the Gujarat police for having links with terrorist groups but even four years after the incident, there was no evidence to the effect.

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A bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Aftab Alam also sought response from state Home Minister Amit Shah relating to the June 15, 2004 police encounter in which Javed, along with three persons including a woman, were killed in Ahmedabad [Images].

The court also issued a notice to the state government on another petition filed by poet and lyricist, Javed Akhtar seeking a probe by a special investigation team into the alleged fake encounters in Gujarat claiming that innocent people, particularly from Muslim community, were being targeted as terrorists.

The petition, citing news reports and a sting operation done by a news magazine into the killing of criminal Sameer Khan in October 2002, alleged it was a fake encounter and there was an attempt by the Gujarat government to hush up the incident.

 Coverage Page: Gujarat fake encounters

Khan, who was in police custody, was killed on the intervening night of October 21-22, 2002 when he allegedly snatched the revolver of a policeman who had accompanied him with a team to a spot where he had murdered a constable.

An FIR was registered alleging that Khan was involved in a conspiracy hatched by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence and Jaish-e-Mohammed to assassinate Modi and other leaders.

Akhtar, who jointly filed the petition along with social activist Shabnam Hashmi, alleged it was the same team of Gujarat police which had killed Soharabuddin Sheikh in the fake encounter and later murdered his wife Kauser Bi.

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Both the petitions of Pillai and Akhtar were filed in May 2007 when the apex court was hearing the petition related to the killing of Soharabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter.

Later, the court without issuing any notice, had tagged Pillai's petition with the matter of Soharabuddin Sheikh.

The petition of Pillai, filed through advocate Deepak Prakash, alleged that officials of Gujarat police murdered his son on June 15, 2004 in the guise of an encounter, which was planned and executed by them with the motive of enhancing the political image of the chief minister.

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"The Gujarat police has not established enough material to show that the deceased is involved in any criminal activities, the alleged recovery of a gun is also a part of the pre-written script and it is planted accordingly to escape the charge of murder," the petition said.

The father of the deceased further alleged, "No police person was killed or injured in the alleged encounter and the deceased has sustained point blank gunshots on his skull and ribs. It shows that the deceased was restrained and shot down in a pre-designed manner."

It was stated in the petition that Javed went missing from June 11, 2004. His father came to know about his murder through the media, which reported that the police foiled an attempt to assassinate Modi and killed four persons including Javed in an encounter.

Seeking a CBI enquiry, he alleged, "The accused are extremely influential persons in the administrative hierarchy and there is a strong possibility of witnesses being approached and if immediate steps are not taken, then the witnesses would also be in jeopardy."

Top police officials of Gujarat have been made party in the petition.

Akhtar's petition, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, contended that there are other media reports of killing of innocent persons in fake encounters by the same team of Gujarat police and sought investigation by a special investigation team into the 'cover up' on the victim's killing.

"It appears from all the incidents of fake encounters, a pattern has emerged of killing innocent people, particularly from the Muslim community, on the pretext of they being dreaded terrorists and conspiring to kill the chief minister of the state at the behest of terrorist group like JeM," it said.

Akhtar has alleged it has become a trend in Gujarat to demonise Muslims by declaring them dreaded terrorists and thereafter killing them in fake encounters.

In the petition, he alleged that in almost all these incidents, the same group of police officials led by D G Vanzara, arrested in connection with Soharabuddin Sheikh's killing, have been found to be involved and in many such incidents there has been a massive cover-up.

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