In yet another twist Ishrat Jahan encounter case, newly appointed head of the SIT JV Ramudu has told the Andhra Pradesh government that he cannot take up the assignment entrusted by the high court.
"I have communicated to the state government that I cannot take up the job of heading the SIT for probe on health ground. I had recently undergone a major surgery so I cannot travel and head the probe agency," Ramudu told HT from Hyderabad.
He also told HT that even the state home department has intimated to the ministry of home affairs that the officer selected by the high court would not be able to take up the assignment.
"It's very strange that without obtaining my consent, my name was recommended by the union ministry," he said.
He is 1981 batch IPS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre and is currently posted as vice chairman and managing director of Andhra Pradesh state police housing corporation.
"I don't know how my name came to be recommended as I was on leave for two months and even the state government is aware about my health," he said, feigning ignorance about who proposed his name for the job.
In fact, a division bench of the Gujarat high court appointed him as chairman of three-member SIT probing the encounter of Mumbra girl Ishrat Jahan and three others. His appointment was in replacement for Dr Satyapal Singh, who had also expressed his "reluctance" to head the probe team.
Satyapal Singh is Maharashtra cadre officer of 1980 batch and one of the IPS officer involved in the encounter is PP Pande, who is his batch mate.
Subsequently, the court asked the Union government to suggest names of officers to replace Singh. Among the panel of three names, JV Ramudu's name was picked up by the high court, directing the state to issue a notification making his appointment as chairman, SIT.
Ishrat, along with three others -- Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar -- was killed in a police encounter on June 15, 2004.
After the encounter, city crime branch claimed the deceased were LeT terrorists who had come to kill Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.