The Central Bureau of Investigation’s charge sheet in the Ishrat Jahan case, filed on Wednesday, claims that the college student and three others were in the custody of the Gujarat police prior to their killing in a fake encounter. But the charge sheet did not name state Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former minister Amit Shah as accused.
Chief Investigating officer, Deputy Superintendent of CBI G Kalaimani, who submitted the first charge sheet on Wednesday, states that alleged Pakistani national Zeeshan Johar, one of those slain along with Ishrat, was in the illegal custody of Gujarat police for almost three months.
"Zeeshan Johar was brought to Ahmedabad, with the co-operation of two informers of Rajendra Kumar, then chief of Gujarat Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau, in April 2004," states the chargesheet filed on Wednesday before Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate and CBI judge H S Khutwad.
To bring Zeeshan to Ahmedabad, Rajendra Kumar used his alleged informants -- Ovais and Asad -- and he was kept in an apartment at Gota Housing colony in the city.
Ishrat Jahan and Javed Shaikh alias Pranesh Pillai, who were allegedly summoned by SIBGujarat officer, travelled in a blue Indica car and reached Vasad toll-booth in Anand district on June 12. There, they were taken into custody by N K Amin and Tarun Barot, the CBI says.
"To take them in custody, the two Gujarat cops were helped by the State Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau officers M K Sinha and Rajeev Wankhede," it adds.
The charge sheet further says both Ishrat and Javed were later brought to the Khodiyar farm house, owned by K S Desai, on S G Highway on outer periphery of the city, where two of Tarun Barot's subordinates were asked to keep a tight watch.
Both Ishrat and Javed were visited and interrogated more than once by Rajendra Kumar and D G Vanzara. In the same way, Amjad Ali Rana, another alleged Pakistani national who was killed with Ishrat and others, was brought to the city in May, and was kept at Arham Farm house near Gandhinagar.
On June 15, 2004, all the four were brought blindfolded to a spot near Kotarpur Water Works on the northern outskirts of the city, where the fake encounter took place.
Suspended IPS officer D G Vanzara and three other cops have been named in the chargesheet as those who planted weapons on Ishrat. The CBI has told the court that Ishrat along with three others were kept in illegal confinement before they were killed.
The CBI also told the court that offence has been established against ADGP PP Pandey, and suspended police officers DG Vanzara, GL Singhal, Tarun Barot, NK Amin and Anaju Chaudhary. "The cops have been charged of criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement and murder," CBI lawyer, SK Saiyaad told media persons.
It also said that the weapons including AK-47 rifles found from the encounter spot and claimed to be of those shot in the encounter, were procured by Gujarat police officer Singhal from SIB.
But in an important turn of events the probe agency is silent on whether Ishrat and those accompanying her were terrorists or not. "Nothing has been said on Ishrat's terror links," Saiyaad confirmed.
The CBI also did not name IB officer Rajinder Kumar as accused in the case, as it did not have enough evidence against him for now. However, the probe agency has maintained that his role in the encounter is still under probe.
"Investigation is on against Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau Rajinder Kumar and four officers of the agency," the CBI told the court.
The CBI had earlier questioned Kumar in connection with the case. He was heading the SIB at the time of the encounter.
Ishrat, Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were gunned down in a police encounter in 2004 by the Crime Branch officials of the Gujarat police. The Gujarat police later claimed that those killed in the encounter were members of LeT on a mission to kill Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
The probe agency is also expected to file a supplementary chargesheet on the conspiracy angle in the killing by the end of July. The Ishrat Jahan case has seen an escalation in war of wars between the Congress party and the main opposition Bhartiya Janata Party.
BJP leaders have time and again said that the Congress is using the investigating agency as a tool to get back at Narendra Modi and malign him and that the case had been reduced to a 'political battle'.
The BJP has maintained all along that the Ishrat Jahan shootout was not staged and was conducted on the basis of information received from the IB.
With inputs from PTI