The special investigation team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court will probe the alleged fake encounter of Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan, apart from investigating the Gujarat riots of 2002. The Gujarat High Court on Thursday ordered SIT, headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan, to probe the case.
This is the third intervention by the higher judiciary in the affairs of the Gujarat government involving law and order in the past eight years. The first related to the Gujarat riots of February and March 2002, following which the apex court formed the special investigation team. The second concerned the fake encounter killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in November 2005 and the CBI was asked by the Supreme Court to investigate.
All three events took place when Narendra Modi was Gujarat chief minister.
A Division Bench consisting of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice Abhilasha Kumari gave the verdict on investigating the killing of Ishrat and three others, but rejected the demand for a CBI probe.
Shamina Kauser, Ishrat Jahan’s mother, along with some others, moved the petition in the Gujarat HC asking for a CBI probe into the alleged fake encounters by the Ahmedabad police in June 2004.
The then head of the detection of crime branch, DG Vanzara, who is also a prime accused in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case and is currently lodged in jail, had claimed that all the four had links with thethe Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and were on a mission to kill Modi.
In September last year, local magistrate SP Tamang had said in his report that the Ishrat encounter was fake. Tamang had recommended action against 22 police officials. The policemen accused of the killing have challenged Tamang’s report in the Gujarat HC.
Human rights activists were enthused when the Supreme Court ordered handing over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case to the CBI. “These are a series of incidents that are connected (with the aim of targeting innocent people by branding them as terrorists planning to kill Narendra Modi),” Mukul Sinha, a senior Gujarat High Court lawyer representing Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin, told HT.