It was a different kind of Narendra Modi effect that put brakes on CBI’s probe into the Ishrat Jahan case.
Sources told HT that once Narendra Modi was declared as the prime ministerial candidate by the BJP in September, few witnesses, who the CBI hoped might have shed light on conspiracy and conspirators behind Ishrat’s killing, started developing cold feet and declined to help the agency further.
“The CBI managed to get cooperation from some of the key witnesses early this year onwards which helped it to file the first charge sheet in the case against seven policemen by July. The agency then started focusing on the conspiracy part of the case but by September as Modi became the PM candidate, witnesses started hesitating in coughing up further information,” said a source who had been briefed about the probe details.
In its first charge sheet, the CBI stated that Ishrat and her employer Javed Shiekh alias Pranesh Pillai were killed along with two others — Jishan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana — in a fake encounter in Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.
The CBI also said the local police fabricated a claim that Johar and Rana came to Gujarat to kill Modi and other Hindu leaders.
Due to non-cooperation of witnesses, the CBI could not get clinching evidence in the case against Modi’s key aide and former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah, who it suspected may have played a part in the conspiracy. In the absence of prosecutable evidence, the CBI may exclude Shah’s name from the supplementary charge sheet that is about to be filed in the next few weeks.
At the moment, CBI director Ranjit Sinha is vetting the probe team’s report in the case and is expected to take a call soon.