Delhi-based media organisation Tehelka has released contents of an audio tape in which Gujarat’s junior ministers for home and law, advocate general and other top officials are purportedly heard discussing how to stall further investigations into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
Mumbai college student Jahan and three men were shot dead by officers of the Gujarat Police on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in June 2004. They had claimed that the foursome were Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives on a mission to assassinate chief minister Narendra Modi.
The conversations at the meeting were purportedly recorded by IPS officer GL Singhal, who is believed to have handed the tape over to the CBI. Singhal was arrested by the CBI in the same case and is currently out on bail.
The meeting was held in state capital Gandhinagar on November 19, 2011, a few days before the special investigation team (SIT) was to submit its final report to the Gujarat high court.
In the tape, then junior home minister Praful Patel is heard saying: "I called Satish Verma to my house… despite knowing the dangers of it… had spoken to him for more than four hours and told him to help these 18 persons who are involved."
Verma was a member of the high court-appointed SIT, which conducted the preliminary probe in the encounter case.
Gujarat advocate general Kamal Trivedi reportedly said, "Let the judge make as much of a mistake as possible and then we go to the Supreme Court and say 'Sir, see how bad the high court order is – they continued investigations for a year and now they are saying file the second FIR in the case'."
He is also heard saying that the state government had helped the accused police officers in every possible way. "The idea is to see if we can work out a joint strategy to help you," he is heard saying.