A government official who re-ignited a debate over the Ishrat Jahan encounter case told a Gujarat court in 2013 that the controversial second affidavit was a collaborative effort between the home and law ministries and Intelligence Bureau, HT has learnt.
HT has a copy of former home ministry official RVS Mani’s statement as a prosecution witness and submitted to a Gujarat trial court in July 2013. The statement was part of the charge sheet filed by the CBI that probed the June 2004 encounter.
Mani told a TV channel on Tuesday that neither he nor his two immediate seniors had any knowledge about the second affidavit, sparking a fresh debate over the encounter that was allegedly staged by Gujarat police.
The first affidavit filed in court on August 6, 2009 stated that Ishrat and Javed Ghulam Sheikh, the person she was traveling with at the time of encounter, were activists of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT). Two terrorists were also killed in the encounter in Ahmedabad.
Mani’s statement came few days after former home secretary GK Pillai said the decision on the content of the second affidavit was made at the “political level”.
Congress leader P Chidambaram, who was the then home minister, defended the government’s action saying the second affidavit reflected the right position of IB whose job is to only provide intelligence.
The BJP and Congress traded charges over the issue in Parliament on Wednesday.
“The second affidavit was drafted in the chamber of D Diptivilasa, then joint secretary (home ministry) with inputs from representatives of the law ministry as well as the IB,” Mani stated in his statement recorded by a CBI deputy superintendent of police.
Mani said his work as an under-secretary at the ministry’s internal security division 6 --that deals with counter-terrorism and IB alerts -- was “supervised” by two seniors, director PK Mishra (an IRS officer) and IAS officer Diptivilasa.
Mani referred to a probe by the Gujarat metropolitan magistrate SP Tamang -- that found the encounter to be fake – which could have led to the decision to file the second affidavit.
In his statement Mani also said he “do(es) not disagree” that it was beyond the mandate of the then Central government to have included post-encounter “details” in the first affidavit about the four slain people and their alleged activities which were revealed in the Gujarat police probe. Mani said the first affidavit primarily dealt with IB’s inputs prior to the encounter.
The encounter was first probed by a special investigation team (SIT) of Gujarat police and later handed over to the CBI by the Gujarat high court. Both the agencies concluded the encounter was “fake”.
CBI charged seven officials of the Ahmedabad crime branch in July 2013, then submitted a supplementary charge sheet in February 2014 against four then IB officers including then joint director Rajendra Kumar. The home ministry did not grant sanction to prosecute Kumar and three other officers.
Countering Mani’s claim about a female CBI officer following him to a temple he visited every Sunday, a senior officer of the agency who was then associated with the encounter probe told HT, “The CBI team had no woman officer.”