It has been a case where at the end of every tunnel, there is no light but another tunnel. So when the CBI files a supplementary charge-sheet in the Ishrat Jahan Raza case accusing former Intelligence Bureau (IB) special director Rajinder Kumar of murder and three serving officers of criminal conspiracy, we could, in normal circumstances, breathe a sigh of relief that a highly controversial case has neared its end.
But as it did 10 long years ago, the case in which the young woman and three others, Javed Sheikh, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana, were shot dead in Gujarat, still does not seem satisfactorily resolved — not a novelty when the State law and order forces are involved.
The four, according to the Gujarat Police, were Laskhar operatives on a mission to kill chief minister Narendra Modi. The charge-sheet at that time gave no reason for the killing or indeed proof of the antecedents of the four. But after so many years, much of the testimonies have been chopped and changed that it is impossible to ascertain all the facts of the case.
It smacks of incompetence, some might attribute more sinister motives, on the part of the CBI that it has taken so long to investigate a case of such a sensitive nature.
A question which has not been satisfactorily answered is about the layers of influential people above those accused of the encounter killings. It would seem that none or at least not all of them were questioned.
The official records of the case have conclusively shown many lapses in recording information and testimonies. The other puzzling aspect is how senior intelligence officials were able to simply gun down alleged suspects without first trying to capture them for questioning. There are dark hints that the four may have been indeed captured but then this would suggest something akin to a custodial killing.
Who did the intelligence officials take their orders from? In a case of this nature, it would have had to come from a higher authority. But no one has been named as a suspect. If IB officers have now taken it upon themselves to kill suspects, then this is a very dangerous trend.
So, with all these questions and many more left unanswered or obscured, there can never really be any closure in this case. Several encounter deaths have gone through twists and turns during investigation that the truth will never be known about them. This case once again raises the need for time-bound investigations and transparency. As of now, it would seem that any further direction in this case will come only if the court orders it.