Former head of Intelligence Bureau’s Gujarat wing and three of his serving colleagues were on Thursday charged with murder and conspiracy in the extra-judicial killing of Ishrat Jahan and three others 10 years ago.
A file photo of demonstrators holding a candlelight vigil for Ishrat Jahan.
However, in a morale booster for the BJP ahead of Lok Sabha elections, Narendra Modi’s confidante Amit Shah was not named in the second chargesheet filed by the CBI on Thursday.
Shah was last year quizzed after some of the accused alleged he had been aware of the police’s actions all along. HT had reported on December 2 and 17 that Shah might escape unscathed because he was not present in Ahmedabad on the day of the encounter and there was no evidence against him.
The chargesheet says former Gujarat wing head of IB Rajendra Kumar is the main accused who generated a false intelligence alert that the four persons were terrorists on a mission to kill Modi. Not only that, he also provided arms to the accused a day before the encounter.
Read: Ishrat Jahan killed in 'fake and cold blooded encounter', says CBI
Besides Kumar, three serving IB officials -- P Mittal, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede -- who helped him carry out his plan have also been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy, wrongful confinement, kidnapping, wrongful concealment. Kumar has additionally been charged under Arms Act.
This is for the first time a top-ranking officer of the country's premier intelligence agency has been chargesheeted in extra-judicial killing.
Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old college student, was killed along with Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali and Zeeshan Johar on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004 by a team of the Gujarat Police’s Crime Branch.
The police had claimed the IB had alerted them about the assassination plans of the four persons. But in a row that pitted IB and home ministry with the CBI, the former defended Kumar saying he had only passed on the intelligence but didn’t authorise or participate in the killings.
The CBI last year said that Kumar, a 1979 batch IPS officer, actively participated in the conspiracy to kill Ishrat and others. His juniors in Ahmedabad IB office picked Ishrat and her former employer Javed from a toll plaza and illegally confined them, while Kumar interrogated them.
The CBI did not wait for home ministry’s formal consent of sanction for prosecuting Kumar. The ministry had said its sanction was required to prosecute Kumar because he was a serving officer when the encounter took place.
In its primary charge sheet, the CBI had described the encounter as joint operation by Gujarat police and central IB.
Read: I have been wrongly implicated in Ishrat case: Former IB special director
Read: The who and what of the Ishrat Jahan case
The CBI while sharing the details of evidence implicating Kumar with the ministry officials, had contended that without including Kumar as a prime accused, the case would collapse.
It argued that Kumar’s role is crucial in getting custody of the two persons who were killed along with Ishrat and Javed, supplying weapons and generating false IB alert when the four persons were already in the custody of the police.