The Ishrat Jahan encounter case is likely to take a politically interesting turn, as evidence gathered by the CBI suggests that the state authorities had prior knowledge of the allegedly staged killings on June 15, 2004.
An investigator, requesting anonymity, told HT that chief minister Narendra Modi and then junior home minister Amit Shah could have been “in the loop”. But, he said, the evidence was still being verified.
Ishrat, 19, a Mumbai college student and an alleged Lashkar suicide bomber, and her three associates – Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Jeeshan Johar – were killed in an encounter with the Gujarat police. The police claimed that they had come to Gujarat to kill Modi.
Although state government spokesperson Nitin Patel refused to comment on the issue, former spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said, "These are only media reports... Let the CBI file the charge sheet first.”
The CBI charge sheet, likely to be filed on July 4, will claim that the encounter was staged and Rajinder Kumar, then head of the Gujarat unit of the Intelligence Bureau, had colluded with the cops to have Ishrat and her associates killed.
A source in the investigating team said, "Kumar not only generated a false alert and helped organise the prior custody of the four, he also procured an AK 56 rifle that was planted on the bodies to make them look like LeT terrorists.”
Earlier, when Kumar was summoned by the CBI, the IB chief moved the home ministry and the PMO and eventually extracted the assurance that Kumar could be touched only after his retirement on July 31.
A file photo of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and former Gujarat minister Amit Shah in Ahmedabad. (AFP photo)