The Central Bureau of Investigation has questioned Deputy National Security Advisor and former Intelligence Bureau chief Nehchal Sandhu in connection with Sadiq Jamal encounter in 2003 by the Gujarat crime branch.
CBI sources said Sandhu was questioned in New Delhi this week in connection with the encounter, which allegedly occurred following a tip-off received from Intelligence Bureau officials. The sources said their probe has indicated that senior officials of the security agency might have been in loop about the tip-off on the encounter making it necessary to question them.
The IB had given an input that Jamal was planning to target senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, L K Advani and some Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders, they said. The input given by the IB was said to be the reason behind the killing of Jamal, a resident of Bhavnagar city, by a team of the Gujarat crime branch in an encounter near Galaxy Cinema on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on January 13, 2003.
Sandhu was the joint director (operations) with the IB when the encounter took place. The sources said Sandhu was asked about the input, the transfer of Jamal from the custody of the Mumbai police to Gujarat and other related information, which have been collected by the CBI during interrogation of other former officials of the IB.
Earlier, the CBI has questioned former special directors of the IB Sudhir Kumar and Rajinder Kumar in connection with the encounter. Rajinder Kumar retired in July from the service as the special director of the IB.
Sudhir Kumar, a 1968 batch Indian Police Service officer who retired as the central vigilance commissioner, was posted as the special director of the IB when this incident took place. Jamal's brother Shabir has sought further investigation into the alleged role played by the then joint director Rajendra Kumar, former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah and the chief minister in the encounter case.
At that time, the Gujarat police had claimed that he was a terrorist who entered the city to kill the CM Narendra Modi and VHP leader Pravin Togadia, a claim similar to that made regarding the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.
Image: Deputy National Security Advisor and former Intelligence Bureau chief Nehchal Sandhu